AURORA, Neb. — The 2011-12 school year began a short time ago, but Aurora Public Schools is already benefitting from decreasing its bus stops from 100 to 70.
Transportation Director Gerad Olsen told SBF in an interview this week that faced with drastic budget cuts, district officials had to find a way to cut costs, and reducing the stops was the best option.
“Rather than cut the city routes completely or charge each student to ride the city bus, the school board, along with bus management, decided to keep Aurora unique and keep city routes. In order to keep costs in check, the bus stops had to be reduced to make more of a group stop rather than door-to-door stops,” Olsen explained.
(As SBF previously reported, in the past, the district’s buses would stop at every block while on a route.)
Olsen went on to say that under this new system, with Aurora being 1 square mile and having a population of 4,500, for the most part, the farthest a child has to walk to get on the bus is three blocks.
Currently, Aurora Public Schools operates nine routes, with three of them being rural route buses that come in from the country to pick up kids in town. On average, Olsen said it costs the district $50,000 per year to run these routes. This includes driver salary and benefits, as well as fuel and maintenance costs.
At this point, Olsen does not have an estimate on what the district will save by cutting the 30 bus stops.
“It is hard to put a dollar figure on how much we will be saving on fuel and maintenance this early in the school year, but the route times have naturally condensed, fuel usage is expected to decrease and the drivers are much happier making fewer stops,” he said.