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School Bus Transportation in 2021

These are chaotic times for school districts and school bus transportation managers. Between the ongoing driver shortage and all the disruption caused by COVID-19, it's easy to feel like things are getting a bit out of control.

Well, take heart, because you're not alone. Recently, HopSkipDrive conducted an extensive survey (PDF) of school districts across the country. The questions were centered on the problems they're facing, and what they consider to be the most pressing issues at the moment.

Operational Optimization: Planning Ahead

When school districts want to - or need to - reduce the costs of their transportation system, one of the best options is to optimize their bus routes. It's rare for a district to have perfect route optimization, and just about any updates they can make will result in cost savings down the road. In best cases, they may even be able to entirely eliminate one or more routes, drastically reducing costs as well as reducing the harm done by the ongoing school bus driver shortage.

Texas School Buses May Continue Requiring Masks

Texas recently made headlines for stepping down its COVID-19 mask requirements. Businesses around the lone star state are no longer mandated to enforce mask-wearing on their premises - but they are still allowed to voluntarily require masks, if they choose.

Electric School Buses: Myths Versus Facts

Electric school buses may be one of the most misunderstood types of alt-fuel buses.  In many ways, they're the safest and cleanest of all the ways you could power a bus, but there is a lot of misinformation out there. Some of the myths used to be true, and some are outright fabrications, but they all may hold districts back from investing in a viable alt-energy system.

Federal Legislation Seeks $1B in Funding for School Buses

If your school district is interested in upgrading to electric school buses, you may get some help in the next few years. The "Clean School Bus Act" has been re-introduced in the House Of Representatives, and would provide over $1 billion dollars in funding to help districts pay for clean-energy bus upgrades.

The bill was first introduced in 2019 by several Democrats in Congress, but due to political tensions at the time, it died in a Senate committee without much action. Now, it has been reintroduced and stands a much better chance of passing. Passage isn't a sure thing - and the government has a lot on its plate at the moment - but if it does pass it could be good news for districts hoping to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Making Social Distancing Work on a School Bus

If your school is maintaining in-person classes during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, your district should be doing everything possible to reduce the chances of disease transmission. This is a major challenge - especially on school buses! As a small enclosed space, school buses are perfect for spreading a disease that thrives through person-to-person contact.

The only good solution is to maintain social distancing rules, even on the bus. This won't be easy, but it's better than having a major outbreak at your school. Fortunately, we have a few tips to make this task a bit easier.

Reducing the Costs of School Bus Transportation

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.

Encouraging Loyalty in School Bus Drivers

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, schools around the nation were struggling to find enough school bus drivers to keep all their routes running. The coronavirus only made things worse. It's become harder than ever for schools to find and keep drivers, particularly when many drivers in high-risk groups are unwilling to endanger themselves.

To keep your school district running, you need to be doing everything possible to maintain loyalty among your drivers. Once someone is on the payroll, you need to hang onto them. Here are some suggestions.

K-12 Relief Funds: School Bus Ventilation Systems

Shortly before leaving office, President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 into law. Part of this law includes over $54 billion in funding grants to help both public and charter schools respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Propane Autogas Eases Back-to-School Challenges

Of all the back-to-school challenges facing school districts in 2020, the problem of successfully busing students may be one of the most pressing. By law, every district must provide transportation for any student that needs it - but schools only have so many buses, and safe social distancing during an outbreak means those buses should only be 1/6 to 1/4 full. Otherwise, the students are so close that they could transmit the coronavirus simply by breathing at each other.

 

 

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