Beyond the Yellow Bus Promising Practices for Maximizing Access to Opportunity Through Innovations in Student Transportation Acknowledgements

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Beyond the Yellow Bus Promising Practices for Maximizing Access to Opportunity Through Innovations in Student Transportation Acknowledgements
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  Beyond the Yellow Bus http://citiesandschools.berkeley.edu Promising Practices for Maximizing Access to Opportunity Through Innovations in Student Transportation  Beyond the Yellow Bus Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank the many individuals from across the country who spoke with us and shared their insights, experiences, and policy knowledge. Thanks also to Catherine Cox Blair, Sasha Forbes, Rob-ert Hickey and Davian Gagne. Thanks to Mile High Connects for providing generous funding towards the research in this report. Any errors herein are the resposibility of the primary author. About the Center for Cities + Schools The Center for Cities + Schools at the University of California, Berkeley is an action-oriented, policy and technical assistance center, whose mission is to promote high-quality education as a essential component of urban and metropolitan vitality to create equitable, healthy and sustainable communities for all.http://citiesandschools.berkeley.edu/ Suggested Citation Copyright 2014 Center for Cities + Schools, University of California, BerkeleyLayout by Alex Jonlin and Cailin Notch Cover images (l-r): Je Vincent; ickr user ‘Inspire Kelly’; ickr user ‘Metro Cincinnati’ Vincent, Jerey M., Carrie Makarewicz, Ruth Miller, Julia Ehrman and Deborah L. McKoy. 2014. Beyond the Yellow Bus: Promising Practices for Maximizing Access to Opportunity Through Innovations in Student Transportation . Berkeley, CA: Center for Cities + Schools, University of California. About Mile High Connects The Mile High Connects mission is to ensure that the Metro Denver regional transit system fosters communities that oer all residents the opportunity for a high quality of life.http://www.milehighconnects.org/   Table of Contents Overview  Purpose Methods Structure of Report State of the Field: Reviewing the Literature  Policy Context: State and Federal Rules Operational Context: Shift Toward Service Privatization Safety and Cost: Ongoing Debates on the Two Big Challenges Case Studies  Polk County, Florida Oakland, California Portland, Oregon Washington, D.C. Baltimore, Maryland Boston, Massachusetts Charlottesville, Virginia Medford, New Jersey Discussion of Findings  Subsidized Youth Access to Public Transit Tools to Encourage Use of Student Transportation Programs to Increase School Attendance Reduction in Cost and Environmental Impact Lessons: Maximizing Opportunity Through Student Transportation InnovationConclusion: Combining StrategiesReferences   4 566 7 91112 17 1820222426283031 33 33363737 384243 Beyond the Yellow Bus  4 Beyond the Yellow Bus OVERVIEW More than 25 million children, or 55.3% of the US public K–12 student population, ride one of 475,000 school buses each day, totaling more than a billion student trips per year (Wiegand 2010). Though the percentage of students riding school buses has slightly declined from a high of 60% in the 1980s (Safe Routes to School National Partnership 2010), the image of the “yellow school bus” remains an iconic component of the US K–12 educational experience. As a parent noted in a recent CBS interview, “You can’t take [buses] out of school. It’s like taking those No. 2 pencils out of there” (Van Ristell et al 2013). Many states provide local school districts with funding to help cover the costs of providing student transportation to school, even when it’s not mandated. Also, multiple professional organizations including the American School Bus Council, National Association for Pupil Transportation, and National School Transportation Association support the school bus industry, reassuring parents and taxpayers that “yellow buses” (as they are frequently called) are the safest and most cost-eective means to bring children to and from school. The continued availability, aordability, and trustworthiness of yellow-bus service is threatened by a host of challenges. The rise of school consolidations and school choice programs makes routing increasingly complex and expensive (Killeen and Sipple 2000; Van Ristell et al. 2012) or even infeasible within certain constraints and school district policies (Killeen and Sipple 2000; Park and Kim 2010). State and federal mandates that require service for particular groups of students and stricter motor vehicle safety standards for school bus designs and operators create additional challenges. Fuel costs continue to rise, more dispersed students require additional buses and drivers, and eventually buses need replacement (Park and Kim 2010; Thompson 2011; Van Ristell et al. 2012). Confronted with these challenges, many school districts across the country have begun to charge transportation fees to students, reduce service, or contract out service to private yellow-bus operators. Each of these options can be met with local opposition. Faced with these challenges, some areas of the country are experimenting with new and innovative approaches to expanding service and improving the cost-eectiveness of student transportation. Sometimes these strategies include yellow buses; sometimes they do not. Sometimes school districts are involved; sometimes they are not. However, student transportation is a particularly dicult area to innovate within for a variety of reasons, including regulation from multiple levels of government, limited funding, a strong private-sector service-providing industry reinforced by policy, and perceptions and concerns from parents about The image of the “yellow school bus” remains an iconic component of the US K–12 educational experience. The continued availability, aordability, and trustworthiness of yellow-bus service is threatened by a host of challenges.  5 Beyond the Yellow Bus safety (Agency Council on Coordinated Transportation 2004; Federal Transit Administration 2005; McDonald and Howlett 2007; Price et al. 2012). Given the context of strain on conventional student transportation delivery, this study aims to understand what, if any, alternative approaches to student transportation are occurring across the US that expand regional transportation access for K–12 students and leverage interagency partnerships beyond the traditional yellow school bus. Our interest in this question is driven by two broad trends in metropolitan planning and regional equity: First is the increasing investment and prioritization of public transit infrastructure upgrades occurring in many metropolitan regions across the country in recent years (American Public Transportation Association 2010). Aims of these investments include reducing vehicular trac and associated emissions and expanding mobility for residents in isolated neighborhoods. Second is the heightened understanding that transportation barriers are a factor in shaping the opportunity gap, mirrored in the student achievement gap; both are pernicious and deeply entrenched (Briggs 2005; Deshano da Silva et al. 2007; Mikulecky 2013). Thus, expanded transport options and access for K–12 students can be seen as contributing to enlarging the “geography of opportunity” for children and families (Bierbaum and Vincent 2013; McKoy et al. 2010; Center for Transit Oriented Development 2012). It may also benet parents by giving them more exibility in their schedules and work opportunities (Jarvis 2005). New transit investments may present an opportunity to improve student access to school. This paper provides a review of the “state of the eld” of student transportation in the US to identify trends and opportunities for innovations. Primarily, these are our aims: • Understand the current student transportation policy environment. • Explore new models of collaboration on student transportation that might involve cities, school districts, regional transportationsdistricts, public transit agencies, private bus companies, and/or state education agencies. • Identify the barriers to experimenting with or implementing innovations.• Summarize and analyze ongoing innovative practices, with an eye toward recommendations and next steps. This study aims to understand what, if any, alternative approaches to student transportation are occurring across the US that expand regional transportation access for K–12 students and leverage interagency partnerships beyond the traditional yellow school bus.New transit investments may present an opportunity to improve student access to school. Purpose
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