State of School Transportation 2022
We surveyed a wide range of school transportation professionals and educational leadership 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: how it affects educational equity and chronic absenteeism, the continuation of severe bus driver shortages, current pain points, what's going well, and more!
Here are six key takeaways from our comprehensive survey.
1. Educational inequity starts with inadequate transportation.
This year’s survey showed the connection between transportation and education is as strong as ever. Half of survey respondents reported a direct link between access to transportation and educational equity in their school district.
This is especially true in poor or geographically isolated areas, where resources and school bus routes are more limited. Students in these areas might not have the option to attend the best school for them — or even get to school consistently. They also miss out on opportunities like sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities.
And transportation challenges are further exacerbated for vulnerable students, such as those with special needs, those experiencing homelessness or those in foster care.
2. Chronic absenteeism remains a significant concern, especially for vulnerable populations.
School attendance continues to be a challenge, according to this year’s report. And the link between transportation and attendance is, as always, strong. Two-thirds of survey respondents (67%) report that access to transportation has affected student attendance. And 61% of respondents reveal their school district has been grappling with chronic absenteeism.
Nearly 49% of respondents reveal their attendance rate has gone down since 2021. And survey data indicate that students in foster care (48%), students experiencing homelessness (45%) and students from low-income households (42%) experience higher rates of absenteeism than the general student body.
3. Pain points like funding and logistics are major frustrations.
Some of the top school transportation pain points according to this year’s survey include funding limitations, industry regulation and policy changes, routing difficulties and individualized student transportation needs.
4. Bus driver shortages continue to make getting students to school that much harder.
Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (88%) report that bus driver shortages have constrained their transportation operations.
The number-one cited issue behind the driver shortage? Recruiting new drivers. Low pay, early retirement, COVID-19 concerns and more attractive private-sector driving jobs factor in to the ongoing bus driver shortage, according to survey respondents.
5. COVID-19 remains a major concern.
While most schools have returned to classrooms, COVID-19 remains a major issue for survey respondents. This is partly because health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus are impacting bus driver recruiting and retention efforts.
6. Staffing shortages are plaguing almost all school districts.
The bus driver shortage is well documented, but schools are facing staffing shortages in their classrooms and administrative offices, too. In fact, 94% of respondents reported a staffing shortage at their school.
These shortages affect employees in all areas of school administration and operations. Some schools, for example, have been forced to ask teachers and administrators to drive school buses to help cover routes.