The logistics of moving students from multiple schools to your facility can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. It does present a number of problems you have to solve. How much should you budget for transportation? What forms of transport make the most sense for your demographic? The answer to these questions requires a little research that can be streamlined with the assistance of afterschool management software.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Student Transport
If your afterschool program includes bus transportation from schools to your facility, there are standards you must meet.
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulates the safe transport of school-age children. For example, 49 USC Section 30112 requires vehicle dealers that sell or lease new school buses must ensure the vehicles meet the safety standards applicable to a school bus.
A school bus, according to NHTSA, is any vehicle designed to carry a driver and more than ten passengers, which is likely to be used significantly to transport “…pre-primary, primary, and secondary students to or from school or related events including school-sponsored field trips and athletic events.”
There is no distinction between the threshold capacity for a bus (such as a city bus) and a school bus. Both are designed to carry more than ten people. If you have a 15-passenger van, the NHTSA defines it as a bus.
Since, by definition, you are transporting students from a school, any vehicle carrying ten or more students to your facility must meet NHTSA regulations. School buses in the US must meet more stringent safety standards than any other motor vehicle. Those safety standards include:
- Crash protection through closely spaced seats with high backs that are well padded and designed to absorb energy when a passenger impacts a seat during a crash
- Unique roof and joint strength requirements and enhanced emergency egress requirements
- Overhead flashing lights and a stop arm for halting traffic during student loading and unloading
If you want to use a bus-type vehicle that is not a school bus, you should check state requirements. If your state allows you to operate a non-school bus for school transportation, you should seek legal counsel to determine any liability you carry in case a student is injured or killed while in transport.
The NHTSA does not control the school's use of a bus to transport students; it only regulates the safety requirements of the vehicle itself. It's possible that a bus doesn't meet the Federal school bus safety standards, which are regulated by the state. While a public or private school can purchase a used bus, the NHTSA strongly recommends that all vehicles meet school bus standards.
When researching transportation options for moving students from school to your afterschool program, you have several options.
You can purchase a school bus, new or used. New buses must comply with NHTSA regulations, and the agency recommends that used vehicles comply as well. A new bus can cost from $90,000 to $290,000, depending on where you purchase it. A used bus will likely be less expensive but may require more maintenance or upgrades to make it comply with regulations.
Another option is ridesharing programs like Uber for Kids. If you decide this is the best option for your program, let parents know which company you intend to use and obtain permission from them for their children to ride in these cars or vans. Depending on the program, you may pay a lower cost per student than with a school bus, especially if you have smaller numbers of students to transport or they arrive from several different schools.
Not much stand-alone funding is available for school buses and afterschool transportation. Still, you might receive grant money to help defray the costs.
Some urban areas provide cost-reduced or fee bus tickets on city bus lines. You may need to provide staff to meet the bus and right with the students until they are comfortable with the routine. Contact your city bus authorities to learn about subsidized local student programs.
Gathering Data and Managing Logistics
You can use a variety of data to help you decide which option is best for your program. Enrollment numbers show you how many children are registered for your program, while attendance records reveal how many regularly attend. Afterschool management software can pull reports of student demographics and attendance information. You can also view financial information to figure out the transportation budget.
Afterschool management software can also be used to create and send out surveys to parents and staff. Through survey results, you can find out which
students are in need of transportation, how many staff are available to help, and what parents are willing to volunteer their time to assist.
The right management tool provides information in real-time. You have immediate access to data about which students use your transportation, including which vehicle they ride. You can use the information to contact parents, the school, and even the students if needed. You can also use it to monitor your transportation budget and make changes in the service when required.
Simplify Transportation Planning for Afterschool Programming
Student transportation is an essential part of off-site afterschool program services but is often one of the largest barriers. With effective planning and resource allocation, there may be an opportunity for you to provide or expand your program’s transportation system.
EZReports can help you get the data you need to support a transportation plan. Contact our team to learn more.