School bus route optimization is the process of generating a set of school bus routes that efficiently transports students to and from their schools safely and on time. Why is optimizing your school bus routes important? It drastically cuts costs, raises the level of efficiency, and addresses issues that school transportation officials face each year.
There are several components to take into consideration when crafting your school bus optimization plan:
School start times and bell time analysis: Altering school start times makes it possible to pair trips together into one single bus route. By doing this, you put fewer buses on the road, cutting down on traffic around schools and greenhouse emissions.
Route planning: Knowing the ins and outs of your existing school bus routes will lead to more effective planning. A reliable mapping system is a key factor in identifying speed limits, turning restrictions, cross street walks, one way streets, and smart boundaries - all of which contribute to implementing an efficient bus route. Drivers should be provided with route maps before the start of school and should be required to drive their route several times to become familiarized with the ins and outs of their particular schedule so there are no surprises at the beginning of the school year.
Ensuring school bus transportation for all students: Routes are chosen based on the amount of bus stops and the number of students expected at each stop. Reviewing these numbers on a regular basis to watch for underutilized stops or dropping ridership can directly impact how bus routes are chosen, and which are kept throughout the cycle of the school year. Analyzing existing routes helps determine where you can cut down on the number of buses while still satisfying school transportation needs including vehicle capacity and any riding time constraints.
What kind of impact does bus route optimization have on school districts? Successfully implementing a school bus optimization plan can result in multiple benefits for school districts that include:
Cutting major costs: The price tag to operate a single school bus costs a district on average around $40,000 to $60,000 – not cheap! Optimizing your routes will reduce these costs in a number of ways while still having the ability to safely get students to school on time. Ways that costs are reduced include:
- Eliminating routes: According to national averages, the elimination of one bus route saves a school district approximately $37,000. Any bus route optimization that results in using fewer school buses will cut major costs. Needless to say, this should always be a goal.
- Reducing travel distances: Optimizing routes may involve re-organizing bus stops, or cutting them out entirely by pairing them with other trips. This will reduce travel distance, fuel costs, and even air pollution.
- Reducing driver shortages: Eliminating routes means fewer buses on the road, which reduces the amount of drivers needed in each district. Imagine being able to optimize your routing schedule and solve the driver shortage issue at once!
The impacts of school bus route optimization and far reaching, from protecting the safety of passengers and monitoring ridership time, to eliminating dangerous greenhouse gasses, controlling driver shortages, and ultimately saving money. If you would like to talk about getting a bell time analysis for your district, or need to discuss other options to improve your school bus route optimization, we’d love to hear from you!