EverDriven, an alternative student transportation provider, released a new e-book that documents the evolution of getting to school and the economic and societal changes that have affected student transportation.
Those systemic shifts, according to EverDriven, include:
- Driver shortage: Bus drivers are in short supply across the United States, with 87% of school transportation professionals saying the staff shortages are a major problem.
- School choice: Parents and students are choosing schools beyond their neighborhoods, increasing the need for more transportation options.
- Housing insecurity: Numbers are rising for students supported by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and ESSA.
- Students with disabilities: More students with disabilities require unique transportation needs.
- State codification: More states are recognizing alternative transportation in their laws.
“Though over 20 states have formally recognized alternative student transportation in law, many more states utilize the service without formal recognition in state statute or regulation,” according to the report. “Even states that do recognize alternative transportation legally may have specifications within the law that prohibit safe and efficient contracted alternative student transportation.”
The report notes that alternative transportation options can supplement school transportation systems and mitigate driver shortages using SUVs, wheelchair-accessible vans, minivans, and sedans to make sure students get from home to school.
“Students face a wide array of unique situations, but they all need and deserve to get to school,” said Megan Carey, EverDriven’s chief development officer. “As a result, districts are turning to alternative options for additional support.”
The report includes case studies from four districts:
- Virginia’s Prince William County Public Schools, where EverDriven used small-capacity vehicles to increase flexibility in trip scheduling and eliminated spending on unused vehicle capacity.
- Aurora Public Schools in Colorado, where the company helped meet rising school transportation demand with more cost-effective smaller vehicles.
- Canyons School District in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, where steep roads and challenging weather conditions complicated school bus service. Smaller vehicles allowed for greater agility and reduced wear on district-owned buses.
- Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia, where officials wanted to simplify its transportation program for private-placement students with disabilities. Providing consistency for these students was key, so EverDriven scheduled the same driver and vehicle every day and provided parents with real-time tracking of students.