Reimagining the School Bus Ridership Experience

electric school buses, school bus ridership, school bus riders


According to multiple studies, less than half of students who are eligible to ride the school bus are actually doing so. Low school bus ridership can actually be a problem for districts that are looking to maintain their state funding or keep a full fleet of school buses active.

In many cases, this boils down to how bare-bones and uninviting the experience of bus riding can be. When cars and other vehicles offer more amenities, students may not be very enthusiastic about riding the bus if they have other options. If districts want to keep ridership numbers high, they may want to look into upgrades that will make bus rides better!

These are some of the best options a district might investigate.

Four Upgrades That Can Boost Your School Bus Ridership

1. Onboard Wi-Fi 

There are few better upgrades a district can install onto their buses than Wi-Fi routers and cellular Internet connections powering them. This helps turn bus time into study time, especially for low-income students who may have little or no Internet access at home. Better yet, Wi-Fi can also encourage better bus behavior by keeping the students distracted and less likely to cause problems.

Some districts have even turned their buses into roving Wi-Fi access points, bringing more benefit to their local residents.

2. GPS Tracking + Parent Apps

Another sticking point for many parents is that they dislike "losing track" of their child while they're on the bus. If your buses already have GPS tracking installed, this is a fixable problem! Districts are finding that they can have inexpensive phone/PC apps developed which allow authorized guardians to track their child's bus in route.

Along with bringing more peace of mind to parents, this can also cut down on calls to the district office asking where the school bus is.

3. Video Cameras

Video surveillance can do a lot to improve the bus riding experience by encouraging students to behave. Too often, trouble-making students are used to playing the "he said/she said" game when accused of causing problems. When there are video cameras on board, this simply isn't an option - there will be hard evidence of who did what. 

These can also be good for bus driver morale since it gives them more protection when in a dispute with parents or students.

4. Seat Belts

Are seat belts in school buses useful? Probably, if only minimally. However, they can have big psychological benefits! Parents and students alike will feel more protected on a school bus with belts, and they typically aren't expensive to retrofit onto existing buses.

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What other upgrades and amenities will help improve school bus ridership? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!