Ray L’Heureux, the assistant superintendent of Hawaii Department of Education facilities, today told members of the Board of Education Finance Committee that the districts school bus reform initiative is well en route to saving the millions of dollars officials hoped it would. 

Savings through the pilot project totaled more than $200,000 by this January and are expected to amount to $500,000 by the end of the school year, L’Heureux said. That’s $100,000 more than what officials originally anticipated would be saved by the time the 2013-14 year wrapped up. 

The department is actually expanding service in the pilot area, too, while decreasing the number of buses in the fleet. The pilot area includes about 30 schools in the Pearl City and Aiea areas.

The number of morning riders, for example, has grown from 1,500 students in August 2013 to 2,500 students in January 2014. Meanwhile, the department has taken seven buses off its fleet since August 2013, from 55 buses to 48 buses. 

Considering the area represents less than 15 percent of the entire state’s ridership, the total savings could be striking, L’Heureux said. 

L’Heureux gave the board members a routine update on the so-called “Get on Board” initiative at their meeting today and was met with kudos and what was effectively a sigh of relief from BOE Chairman Don Horner and Vice Chairman Brian De Lima.

Finally, they said, good news that looks like it’s here to stay. 

State education officials and lawmakers have expressed optimism about the new plans for months now, but now the initiative is yielding real, dramatic results, they said. 

A lack of competition and poor management forced school bus prices to nearly triple between 2006 and 2012 to a whopping $74 million. …

Loading DOE: New School Bus Plan Could Save $.5M By End of Year

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