Most respondents to a Zum school transportation survey think the school bus system in the United States should improve; isn’t safe, efficient, or good enough for the environment, and that teachers and school bus drivers deserve better compensation due to their importance in children’s daily lives.
The 2023 Student Transportation Report Card released by Zum offers parental views of the transportation system that carries students to and from school every day.
"This new survey shows that the vast majority of parents have concerns about their children on the school bus and want solutions," said Ritu Narayan, CEO and founder of Zum. "As a mother, I share these concerns, which is why I founded Zum to deliver safer, more reliable, modern, sustainable, and more equitable student transportation. We are committed to improving the lives of all children, families, drivers, and schools by reimagining this system and are proud to partner with school districts across the U.S."
Other findings from the survey:
- Safety concerns predominate – When asked to name their biggest concern about their child while riding the school bus, most parents said safety, which was also the top concern in 2022. 80% of respondents agreed that the current system is not safe, efficient, or good for the environment.
- An outdated system in need of reform – Every day, more than 27 million children ride to and from school on the largest mass transit system in the U.S., and yet it hasn't changed in the last 80 years. 44% of parents surveyed said their child has been negatively impacted by unnecessarily long bus commutes or failures in the school bus system (i.e. missed after-school activities, arrived at school late, or gotten home from school late in the evening), and more than a third of parents reported that their ability to work or perform well at their job has been impacted by school transportation issues for their children.
- Demand for tech-enabled solutions – Parents expressed an overwhelming desire to modernize and streamline student transportation, with 84% of parents surveyed saying they would use a mobile app to know where their child is on their school bus. Additionally, 82% of parents surveyed agreed knowing if and when a child got on or off their school bus should be as easy as knowing when a package was delivered, up from 67% in 2022.
- Environmental footprint of buses is important – Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., with over 90% of the nation's 500,000 school buses running on diesel. 84% of parents surveyed expressed concern about environmental issues that stem from diesel school bus fumes creating harmful air for students and communities, a significant jump from 72% in 2022. 52% said they believe it is important to convert diesel school buses to electric.
- Better treatment for drivers needed – As a school bus driver shortage persists in school districts across the nation, 76% of parents said they think teachers and school bus drivers should be compensated better because they are a foundational element of children's daily lives.
The full commissioned survey, Zum's 2023's Student Transportation Report Card, is available here.