Reducing the Costs of School Bus Transportation

School Buses,, school bus transportation, School bus fleet development

shutterstock_148242869 (1)There's no doubt that maintaining and running a school bus fleet is one of the most expensive aspects of school budgeting. It's often the 2nd or 3rd largest line item in many school budgets. Buses are costly to run and maintain but are absolutely required in every district.

This makes it vital that districts do everything they can to keep bus transportation costs low - especially now that the coronavirus is creating new budget strains. Here are a few tips on lowering your fleet costs.

Five Ways To Lower School Bus Transportation Expenses

1. Optimize Your Routes

Anything that reduces the amount of time your buses are on the road will significantly reduce costs - and route optimization can help make that happen.  Modern bus routing software can create tightly optimized routes that save you gas and miles. They can even be customized, such as creating routes that avoid roads or intersections that you know are prone to traffic jams or other delays.

2. Cut Routes 

Generally speaking, you're going to save money by taking buses off the road, even if that means other buses have to drive for longer. Cutting even one route can create huge savings, particularly when added up over time.

This is another area where bus routing software can help - you can experiment with numbers of buses vs trip time to find a better balance.

3. Don't Make Left Turns

This might sound frivolous, but it has a bigger impact than many people would think. Major companies like UPS create driving routes that avoid left turns whenever possible, even if it means going slightly out of their way. Why? Because the amount of time spent idling waiting for a safe left turn ends up wasting more time and gas than just taking another route. It's one of those minor tweaks that adds up to major savings over time.

4. Embrace Alternative Fuels

Granted, buying or upgrading a school bus isn't cheap, but it will pay off.  Alternative fuels like propane or natural gas are less expensive per mile than gasoline, and their prices are much more stable, which makes budgeting and planning easier. Plus, federal and state governments keep adding more incentives to embrace alt-fuels, so the upgrades might be offset by substantial grants or other benefits.

Speaking of...

5. Maximize Your Government Funding

Make certain you're keeping scrupulous track of all the details of your bus runs, and applying for every possible funding source you can. If it's been more than a couple of years since you've surveyed local/state/national grants and rebate programs, take another look - you might be leaving money on the table!

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Right now, everyone is trying to reduce their school bus transportation costs. Do you know any good 'life hacks' to keep costs low? Please share them in the comments!