It’s estimated 80 percent of school districts and bus companies are currently experiencing school bus driver shortages. While many districts are feverishly working to recruit new drivers, reevaluating your existing transportation system can give you more options to alleviate the shortage.
First Student has partnered with many districts to increase efficiency and minimize the impact of limited resources. With a few simple steps, they were able to simultaneously reduce the number of routes, vehicles and drivers needed on a daily basis.
1. Evaluate Your Current Routes
When is the last time you analyzed your routes? Even the most well-developed routes can deteriorate throughout the school year. Regular route maintenance identifies inefficiencies that develop over time.
Sometimes, this requires a second set of eyes. So, why not put the experts to work in your district? Through a routing analysis with First Student’s Routing Center of Excellence, Norristown Area School District (NASD) consolidated 130 routes down to 80.
2. Think Outside of the Yellow Bus
Vans offer flexibility that yellow buses cannot. They’re not only cheaper to purchase, they also cost less than a yellow bus to run on a day-to-day basis. Driving a van does not require a CDL, which can speed up training times and increases the potential driver pool.
However, not all buses are created equal. First Student Vans offer the same safe and reliable transportation provided by a yellow school bus. Plus, with specialized training available through FirstServes, vans can also elevate the transportation experience for special needs students.
3. Consolidate Your Vendors
NASD ran more than 100 routes managed by five transportation providers, which created an administrative issue and questions about how efficient they were. First Student’s ability to reduce the number of by 50 allowed NASD to consolidate all their transportation with First Student.
The district realized significant cost savings and a much more streamlined transportation operation.
4. Rethink Your Bell Times
Do your current bell times lend to the most efficient transportation schedule? Tiered schedules can cut down on the total number of buses and drivers needed on a daily basis. But, unless done correctly and efficiently, you could cost your district time and money.
First Student’s Routing Center of Excellence can analyze and model various bell time, ridership and capacity scenarios that allow districts to make strategic decisions that maximize resources and provide the best home-to-school experience for your students.
In fact, after a bell time analysis, the team saved Vigo County School Corporation (VCSC) in Indiana $100,000 annually!
5. Re-assess Your Transportation Policies
While it may not be your most attractive option, reducing the number of students eligible for transportation can reduce your route (and driver) counts. Expanding walk zones and/or the strategic use of crossing guards in hazard areas can convert current eligible riders to walkers.
Extending walk-to-stop distances and ride times as well as consolidating bus stops can also drive routing efficiencies that can reduce route counts.