Student Transportation Challenges in Massachusetts:

The Superintendents’ Perspectives

Special Commission Meeting

May 10, 2019

MASS Survey- April 2019

  • Two separate surveys put out to superintendents to gauge major concerns
  • Responses representing 145 districts (53% response rate)
  • Identified these major concerns:
    • EXPENSE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION TRANSPORTATION
    • LACK OF BIDDERS FOR BUS CONTRACTS
    • INSUFFICIENT REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENT
    • INSUFFICIENT REIMBURSEMENT FOR VOC/AG SCHOOLS
    • INSUFFICIENT REIMBURSEMENT FOR HOMELESS STUDENTS AND FOSTER STUDENTS

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Costs of Transportation

In-District Transportation: State, FY2012-2018

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Year

Expenditures

Per Student

FY12

$443,912,382

$482.92

FY13

$464,392,209

$505.57

FY14

$503,242,531

$548.67

FY15

$523,996,806

$573.76

FY16

$540,630,577

$594.76

FY17

$570,875,423

$626.48

FY18

$605,155,164

$666.60

This represents a 36.3% INCREASE in the seven-year span

OOD Transportation: State, FY2012-2018

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Year

Expenditures

FY12

$120,334,500

FY13

$122,334,501

FY14

$133,217,072

FY15

$136,106,995

FY16

$143,385,229

FY17

$147,926,650

FY18

$150,481,181

This represents a 25.1% INCREASE in the seven-year span

Typical Costs Based Upon MASS Survey

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Regular Transportation

  • Range of expenses: $185/bus/day (Foxborough) to $540/bus/day (Newton)
  • Most reporting districts were in the range of $325-$400/bus/day

Special Ed Transportation

  • A wide variety of expenses, based upon size of bus or van, and distances traveled
  • Most districts use multiple contractors and are in the range of $60-180/direction/

day

It is difficult to compare, as regular education transports 1000+ students no more than 5 miles to the same place while our special education program transports 40 students to 25 different place that are 5-20 miles from their homes.

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The Regional School District Perspective

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One District Example: Mendon-Upton Regional

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One District Example: Mendon-Upton Regional

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Bidding on Transportation Contracts

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90 of the responding districts reported only receiving one single bidder

Owning of Own Transportation

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Common Responses

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  • Purchase of vans by districts for transportation of some special educations programming (e.g., preschool and vocational placements), athletics, field trips
  • In some cases, the district shared ownership with an outside vendor

Utilization of Public Transportation

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Common Responses

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  • Overall, public transportation was simply not an option, particularly for suburban and rural districts
  • In some very limited cases, public transportation was available for school choice students and for those with T service, discounted Charlie cards

Utilization of Regional Transit Authorities

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Common Responses

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  • Instance of special education collaborative using regional transit
  • Also, use of MBTA for MetCo students

If Public Transportation Were Available, Would You Use It?

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Common Responses

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  • Common concerns expressed were the location of schools (e.g., rural) and the lack of transport options and the lack of feasibility of public transportation for children
  • A few supts expressed interest wanting to know more details, specifics (e.g., the possibility of expansion of MBTA options)

Provision of Incentives for Carpooling, Biking, Walking to School, etc.

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Common Responses

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  • Preferred parking for students who carpool
  • Creation of a student app to promote carpooling
  • Newton has created a committee to create more PR in the community around safe, healthy and efficient means of transportation
  • Concerns raised included: rural logistics and challenges of infrastructure within communities

Prevention of Car Idling During Pick Up/Drop Off

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  • Most districts have clear signage on school grounds
  • Mention of District Policies vis-a-vis MASC Policy EEAJ- Motor vehicle Idling on School Grounds & MGL 90:16B
  • Use of SROs and school staff to enforce policies

Ideas for Innovation

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Creation of state-run collaboratives that provide more competition

Use of collaboratives to do the bidding for regions

Creation of more opportunities for sharing of transportation ressources between districts

Ideas for Innovation

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Implement ride-sharing system such as Uber or Lyft

Regulation: state setting flat rates for buses- per mile

Additional grant opportunities to purchase electric buses

Ideas for Innovation

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Incentivize district purchase of vans/buses for targeted needs

Coordination of OOD transportation through the private school

Reimburse OOD transportation as part of the Circuit Breaker Program

Q & A

Any questions?

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Student Transportation Challenges- May 10 2019 - Google Slides