State of School Transportation 2021 Report

We surveyed a wide range of school transportation professionals - from Superintendents to Directors of Transportation to school transportation staff. These findings make up our comprehensive, data-driven report about the current state of school transportation: bus driver shortages, purchasing, pain points, what's going well and more!

As one of the backbones of education, school transportation enables access to learning for all students. Transportation, much like the education system, is heavily affected by budgets and operational challenges. HopSkipDrive set out to analyze exactly what issues are most pressing, how COVID-19 is affecting, and will continue to affect, transportation, as well as the sentiments of the professionals that help children get to school each day.

State of School Bus

5 Takeaways From the Report

1. Bus driver shortages are still a major issue

Overwhelmingly, our respondents’ biggest pain point was clear: the ongoing bus driver shortage. The vast majority of those who participated in the survey said that COVID-19 will exacerbate the shortage, both now and down the road. 

Nearly four-fifths (78.46%) of respondents flagged the bus driver shortage as a problem. Only 16.92% of respondents called it a non-issue. 

2. Bus driver shortages are the main reason why many school districts believe it will take time before they could resume normal operations. 

More than half (55%) of school districts with populations between 25,000  – 100,000 students believed it could take three months or more to resume normal transportation operations. 

  • Bus driver shortages
  • Hybrid schedules
  • Not enough substitute bus drivers
  • Bell times, etc.

3. The majority of respondents think general education services will stay the same as pre-COVID.

While bus driver shortages and budgets are an issue, the vast majority — 61.54% of respondents — will not increase or decrease general education services in the 2021 – 2022 school year.

4. The four biggest pain points for school transportation staff were… 

  • COVID-19 related issues
  • Staffing
  • Funding constraints
  • School bus utilization

5. Purchasing for the 2021-2022 school year may be delayed due to budget constraints, but hiring won’t.

School budgets will delay 40% of respondents from purchasing new vehicles next year. One thing that won’t be put on hold: hiring, likely due to severity of the bus driver shortage.