Considering the Future of the Yellow School Bus

Student Transportation, student bus transportation, school bus transportation, school bus drivers, Yellow School Bus

shutterstock_1603079161What's going to happen to the traditional yellow school bus in the years ahead?

Given how much the COVID-19 outbreak has shaken up industries and economies around the world, a lot of people are wondering what it means for the future of school bus transportation. Assuming that schools will eventually fully reopen and resume 'business as usual,' will there be any long term impacts on the transportation systems?

In our view, yes there will be impacts, but nothing too drastic. We see no reason to think the classic yellow school bus will be going away any time soon.

Four Ways School Bus Transportation May Change In 2022 And Beyond

1 - Buses aren't going away

First, just to be clear: school buses are still the single safest method of public transportation on the road. The accident and fatality rates are a fraction of what you get from any other type of vehicle. As long as children are still being transported physically to schools, there are probably going to be yellow school buses driving them around.

That said...

2 - Normal full-capacity schooling will take awhile to resume

As we mentioned in another recent article, a large number of schools are facing significant hurdles in resuming 100% in-person classes again. The lack of school bus drivers is a major part of this. Large districts, in particular, are simply lacking enough drivers to cover all their routes. This, in turn, is motivating them to continue using remote-education while only working at half capacity in-person, or less.

It may even be that some districts will decide to stick with remote learning for the foreseeable future, for students or parents who opt for it. This will probably become a new way of getting around driver shortages.

3 - Sanitation will have a higher priority

A large number of buses have received sanitation upgrades over the past year. From hand-sanitation stations to full foggers or UV sterilization systems, buses have become much more health conscious - and that's a good thing! Everyone knows that large groups of kids are prone to spreading illnesses, even if we're just talking about common colds and flus. Having better on-bus sanitation should hopefully reduce disease spread and improve attendance. 

4 - Buses may actually start seeing more varied use

During the lockdown in 2020, one thing that surprised and impressed us was how many ways districts found to make use of their buses. Buses became mobile Internet hotspots, and meal delivery vehicles. Hopefully, districts will keep that momentum going, and keep looking for ways to use their buses to serve their communities when needed.

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What do you think? Have you seen any interesting new uses or developments in how districts are utilizing their yellow school bus fleet? Let's talk about it in the comments!