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this may make the author of any blog laugh...


Growing up and going to school in Australia, there are no such things as "school buses."

In elementary-middle school, I rode a city bus the approx 2 miles. In High School, the city buses were chartered to do a route which got me about 2-3 miles from home. I would then walk or catch another bus. The advantage of using chartered city buses in the afternoon is that school shuttling hours are before rush hour, and so you can then use those very same buses for commuters. It is a far more efficient use of resources.

Of course, when I didnt do the bus, there was car-pooling, or biking 2 miles to elementary-middle school, or 6 miles to high school.

Whether school buses are good or bad depends on what people do as an alternative. Obviously it's good for people to get more exercise -- although school buses have an excellent safety record and their probably safer than walking or cycling. However, many people would drive their kids to school if they didn't have buses. School buses are safer and more efficient than an equivalent number of private cars. The $975,000 savings claimed is illusory -- what it really is a shifting of costs from the school system onto the parents.

My bet is these changes will be reversed after enough parents complain about the traffic and bother of "having" to drive their kids to school.

Contrarian: you make good points about cost shifting, and relative safety and benefits. However, this assumes that all other factors are static.

1. Traffic: if there were no buses, I doubt that every kid would be shuttled to school by car individually. There would be more walking, biking and car pooling.

2. Safety: from the POV of accidents, it is better to be inside the bus than outside. How many accidents are caused by buses and parents shuttling kids? I live right near a school, and most of the speeding traffic and otherwise dangerous behavior is caused by bus and car drivers going to school. Analogous to your "cost shifting," this is hazard shifting.

3. If there are no buses, and most kids get their own way to school, then you see other benefits that we do not see. Not just fitness, but independence of the kids. Another benefit is that parents start to think about safety from outside the windshield perspective, and consider safe routes, traffic problems, criminal activity near school, etc.

One more:

I do not agree that buses are necessarily more efficient than cars here.

A bus is a large fixed investment in a vehicle, and a driver, with salary, benefits etc. The bus does not have many other uses, and is only used for a limited period. A lot of buses run half empty. Also, it must take an indirect route to get all travellers, taking time and gasoline.

By comparison, a car may take 3-4 kids (a minivan 7-8), goes directly, and has a clear and direct incentive to be full, and has other uses.

As for cost shifting: the parents presently pay via their taxes for the bus service, or directly for their own car. Thus, you are shifting some costs back to parents, but saving some in their taxes.

... but in reality an SUV or a minivan only has 1 kid.

I live in Fairfax county and there is, sadly, little interest in having kids make their own way to school. I've seen neighbors drive their kids to the bus stop less than 100 yards away.

I think the goal is to make the kids totally helpless that way they can't get into trouble.

Tom: I see that too, but its part of the car-culture mindset. It can be broken, however. In Australia kids walk or bike to school. In fact, most kids would be too embarrassed to have their parents drive them.

I note also that Australia is more like the USA than Europe, in having big, sprawling cities, and big cars.


Your arguments against school buses are virtually the same as the standard arguments against public transit. Closing down Metro would probably increase biking and walking, but it would also presumably be a disaster for traffic, the environment, etc.

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