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As Gas Prices Rise, Can We Afford to Keep School Buses Running?

As Gas Prices Rise, Can We Afford to Keep School Buses Running?

Yellow school buses are a familiar sight where I live in New Jersey. But with gas prices rising, school districts are worried about keeping their buses running. As diesel fuel costs about 25 cents more per gallon than the average cost of a gallon of gas, school districts are trying to figure out how to conserve for the remaining part of the academic year, as well as trying to assess how higher fuel costs might affect next year’s school budgets.

In honor of Earth Week, perhaps it’s time to try to think of more fuel-efficient, greener ways to get kids to school.

EdWeek quotes Fred Scott, supervisor of transportation for Mercer County Schools in West Virginia, says that gas prices have risen “exponentially”:

“We have seen a 22 percent increase in our fuel costs since January 2011,” Scott said. “Gas prices affect schools the same way it does everyone else. It costs more to transport students. It hurts not only us but everyone else to purchase fuel.”

In just the last week, gas prices have increased 3.7 cents per gallon; the average price nationwide is at $3.80 per gallon. For most areas of the US, prices are higher by a dollar than they were last year.

Some children do walk or ride bikes to school in my town, but they’re in a distinct minority. According to Safe Routes, only 10% of American school children walk to school. Even when a child lives only a mile from their school, only 25% of them walk. Noting the dramatic increase in obesity among school children in the past decades, Safe Routes says:

Physical activity recommendations for children suggest that they need a variety of activities each day-some intense, some less-so, some informal, some structured. Walking or cycling to and from school is an ideal way to get some of that activity at no extra cost to the child or family.

Walking to school is a missed opportunity. Roughly 10% of children nationwide walk to school regularly. Even among those kids living within a mile of their school, only 25% are regular walkers.

Parents who walk or bike to school with their kids get to be sociable. Nearly nine out ten parents who walk their children to school see it as an ideal way to meet new people, according to a survey in the UK. Many said that the school gate was a better place to meet new people than pubs, clubs, evening classes or the supermarket.

Safety concerns and hectic schedules do make walking to school simply not option for many children today. Like many parents, I’m too familiar with the traffic jam in the school parking lot as everyone tries to drop off their child and maneuver around the bus. My son currently attends an autism center for children for many counties. Due to his needs, we drive him to school, though he does take the bus home. But when he was younger and attended an autism program at a school two blocks away, we always walked, both to and fro, rain and shine. Sometimes he was not in the mood but the walk especially was a great way to transition home, rather than jumping straight into a motorized vehicle.

Safe Routes hosts a National Walk to School Day 5, which is scheduled this year for October 5. Why not get walking and let the buses (and the parent chauffeurs) take a day off?

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Photo by woodleywonderworks

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69 comments

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12:34PM PDT on May 1, 2011

Sad- sad situations in the world will be never ending..so what are we to do..grin and bare it.Not! lets all get off our butts and make change.

12:40PM PDT on Apr 26, 2011

I walked over a mile from home to school and back again from Kindergarden thru 5th grade. The summer I went into Middle School, we moved WAY outside of town. I mean ten miles at LEAST outside of town.

It sucked.

Here in the city where I live, so many schools have been shut down because of budget cuts, that kids who COULD walk to school now have to be bussed to schools further away. It's insane. This is not a big city, and there USED to be an elementary school within walking distance and there's a high school not two miles from our house.

Thank gods we homeschool, though given all her activities, we're paying a higher price for THAT these days too.

6:58PM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

I rode a bus to school during my high school yrs. A CITY BUS!!! I walked a half mile to the bus stop and spent over an hour on it to school and repeated it on the way home. This is a nation of sissies!!! We can't walk, and demand so much from our gov. then complain when it passes 10 thousand laws which limit or prevent us from doing what we want! the only child that should be riding a bus is the one who live more than 2 miles from the school,or in a rural area. The rest should pay a monthly fee,after all if the parent had to drive (no bus ava) they would be paying for the gas in their car.

4:34AM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

thanks for this

10:10PM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

B/P is british petrolem. Before the boston t party, Britain owned America. That's if my memory is right. That event was supposed to free us from England. So; did England reclaim us somewhere along the line and we don't know it? If they have, that answers alot of questions. Anyone versed on this? I'm wondering here.

10:02PM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

Do you think the gasoline prices are the product of the republican party trying to make things so bad for our now president? They did say they would do anything to make sure he doesn't have a second term. So who is manipulating the cost if it is not the speculaters or supply and demand. Could koch be behind this one too? I am not joking or kidding. Someone is ripping us off again. The last time we had this oil conversation, it was learned that all oil drilled anywhere on this planet goes to a stockpile and I am not talking about America's reserves. It is a world stockpile. Now how this works the news casters need to re-air it again and re explain it to the public.

9:40PM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

School buses? So many children don't even have a roof over their head, nor food, nor medical safety... the US of A is fast becoming a backward developing nation.
Where is the dignity in this?

8:01AM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

Bandaide solution to the bigger problem.

It does have it's value however ... allows venting, pissing and moaning, which releases pentup emotion ... will then most likely dissipate without solution, and be replaced with the next "issue". ONLY IN AMERICA!

8:00AM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

Bandaide solution to the bigger problem.

It does have it's value however ... allows venting, pissing and moaning, which releases pentup emotion ... will then most likely dissipate without solution, and be replaced with the next "issue". ONLY IN AMERICA!

6:07AM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

They have to keep the buses running. For some kids, it is the only way to get to school. Also, more parents who drive their kids to school should have their kids walk or ride the bus in order to save gas. I rode the bus all through school and it didn't hurt me a bit.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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