Now it feels like the school bus production market is bouncing back.
Check the sales report in the Fact Book issue of School Bus Fleet and you’ll see that North American bus manufacturers reported selling 40,556 units in 2022, up about 33% compared to last year.
That’s still short of the most recent high-water mark of 45,321 school buses ordered in 2019, but it’s on par with numbers purchased in 2015 and 2016.
Most of the buses, as usual, are Type C “conventional” buses. But Type D bus orders jumped 81.2% over last year.
However, the numbers indicate that renewed growth has mostly been in the United States. In Canada, although orders for Type D buses held at 34, orders dropped nearly 100 units for both Type A and Type C buses from last year.
While purchase orders for new school buses increased overall, production lines continue to struggle to meet demand in a timely manner due to ongoing supply chain issues. School districts might order a new bus today but not actually see it loading up with students until 2024.
So, it seems we’re on the way toward normal, but not quite there yet.
State-by-State School Bus Fleet Data Returns
This issue of the School Bus Fleet Fact Book marks the return of our state-by-state breakdown of school transportation, the first since before the pandemic, and it’s not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination.
States aren’t consistent in their data gathering and some aren’t responsive at all, resulting in some gaps in information. But we’ve updated our numbers as much as we can to try and paint a picture that, although a little blurry, still illustrates the status of the nationwide school bus fleet.
Some highlights from the breakdown:
- Nationwide, we’ve got about 185,715 school bus drivers – and nearly 500,000 buses.
- The United States has about 116,330 buses owned by contractor fleets (up from 99,755 in the 2018-19 statistics).
- Annual reported K-12 student ridership is down from 57% to 51%.
- Total route mileage is down from 3,324,847,829 to 2,710,918,484.
Changes in the Student Transportation Industry
The year 2022 saw some changes in leadership at agencies and associations related to student transportation, including:
- The hiring of Molly McGee-Hewitt as executive director and CEO of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT).
- The retirement of Jennifer Bruce as administrative and member services director for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).
- Mike Simmons of Arkansas taking on the post of NASDPTS president, with Mike Stier of Illinois serving as president-elect and South Carolina’s Mike Bullman as secretary.
- The confirmation of Robin Hutcheson as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Look inside the Fact Book for more information about contacts at state and national organizations in the pupil transportation industry.