School Busing Handbook

by Jake Volk

Research Centre Report #92-07: 76 pages, $14

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Ownership

III. Costs

  1. Pupils to Be Conveyed
  2. Reducing Routes
  3. The Use of Different Fuels
  4. Use of Public Transit
  5. Sharing Routes
  6. Size of Buses
  7. Use of Computers
  8. Owned vs Contracted Buses
  9. Busing Grants

IV. Educational Implications

V. Bus Safety

VI. Legislation and Policies

  1. Legislation
  2. Proposed Legislation
  3. Policies

VII. Conclusions and Considerations

  1. Conclusions
  2. Considerations

VIII. Bibliography

IX. Appendices


This report was commissioned by the Saskatchewan School Boards Association as an attempt to consolidate into one report the many aspects of busing that have been dealt with in a variety of studies. Previous reports on student transportation as well as policies and reported practices of Saskatchewan school boards, therefore, form the basis for the content of this report. As a guide for school boards this report will address many of their transportation issues directly or by reference to relevant documents.

The information and data used in this study was obtained from a variety of sources. The author is indebted to the staff of the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association and particularly to Lloyd Wildeman and Barry Bashutski for their guidance and encouragement. Also the secretarial staff of the Association deserve commendation for their assistance in typing and compiling the report. The understanding and cooperation of officials in Saskatchewan Education greatly facilitated the preparation of this report. A special thank you goes to Gerry Sing Chin for sharing his knowledge and experience with the author.

Back to: Bus Transportation

The Research Centre grants permission to reproduce up to three copies of each report for personal use. Each copy must acknowledge the author and the Research Centre as the source. A complete and authorized copy of each report is available from the Research Centre.

The opinions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the author and may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.

I. Introduction

The conveyance of students has become a major service of school boards throughout Canada. Conveyance systems bring with them problems related to budgeting, planning, supervision and public relations with the many people affected by student transportation.

In 1986, the Canadian Education Association (CEA) surveyed selected school boards across Canada concerning their bus operations. Their questionnaire examined such areas as business policies, costs, bus safety, the hiring of drivers, the establishment of bus routes along with a host of administrative issues boards need to deal with in conveying students. Throughout this report reference will be made to the findings of the CEA report as they apply to Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan student transportation is an integral and significant component of the education enterprise. In the 1940's when busing of students became a major operation for school boards, parental and student reaction ranged from hostility and skepticism to tolerance at best but that reaction is very different today. The issue today is not whether students should be bused but rather how can the busing be improved. Improvement to school busing deals with such matters as the size of buses, the fuel used by buses, the training of bus drivers, board liability and many other matters dealing with school bus safety, student accommodation and efficiency.

Student transportation is big business! In 1992 Saskatchewan electors will spend in excess of $58 million for conveying rural students to school and another $9 million for special education transportation and student transportation in cities. For rural school boards this amount represents, on average, approximately 12% of boards' budgets, a percentage that has remained relatively constant for many years. For city jurisdictions conveyance costs are, of course, significantly less but largely because of enrolment shifts the increases in transportation costs in cities have been greater than for rural boards. Tables 1, 2 & 3 show board expenditures and other relevant transportation information for school boards in Saskatchewan.

Transportation costs are sometimes categorized into major and minor expenditures. Major expenditures, which generally exceed 90 percent of the total costs include drivers' and mechanics' salaries, fuel and oil, repairs and bus replacement costs while minor expenditures, which are usually less than 10 percent would relate to insurance, licensing, garage expenses and employee benefits.

This study will review a number of issues that rural and urban boards will need to address for the conveyance of students. Most of these issues will have educational, and/or economic implications for boards. The steps that have been taken to improve school bus safety will also be reviewed. Much of the research that has already been done on student transportation will be incorporated into this study so that boards will have ready access to the findings of these studies in one brief and concise report.

Table of Contents

II. Ownership

In recent years some boards have elected to lease buses rather than own them. This arrangement calls for different financial commitments but differs only marginally from a board-owned buses arrangement.

The Saskatchewan School Divisions Statistical Information, 1990, report for Education Saskatchewan indicates that 27 rural school divisions operated board-owned vehicles only while 19 boards had contracted bus service only. Fourteen rural school divisions met their conveyance mandate through board-owned buses and contracted services. Forty-one boards had at least some board-owned buses while 33 boards had at least some contracted services. This datawould suggest that Saskatchewan boards, as a group, have no strong preference for any one system. A small majority of the boards have opted for board-owned systems but a good number of boards continue to feel that their conveyance needs are adequately met through contractual arrangements. The 1987 CEA study (page 14) found that "the majority of respondents (61%) have some board-owned student transportation vehicles". The same study indicated that the bus replacement policies of boards differed significantly with ten years followed by twelve years and then eight years as the three most common practices. A very large majority of these boards (86.5%) have drivers who are employed directly by the board while the remaining drivers have a contractual arrangement with the board. Also the study showed that a majority of these boards do their own bus maintenance by hiring mechanics and providing school bus garages.

Five rural Saskatchewan school divisions took part in the CEA study. These five divisions indicated that they transported approximately 4775 students in 169 board-owned vehicles and 33 contracted buses. According to this sample almost 84% of buses used were board-owned which is significantly higher than the national average as reported in the CEA study. However, it must be noted that the sample is indeed very small and may, therefore, not be a true representation of busing practices in Saskatchewan. The survey also indicated that, not unlike the findings in this study, these Saskatchewan boards replaced their buses after 10 years of service (2 boards), 11 years of service (1 board), 8 years of service (1 board) and 7 - 10 years of service (1 board).

Table of Contents

III. Costs

Subject to restrictions related to the age of the student or the distance from school, school divisions across Canada assume financial responsibility for student conveyance. Boards, in turn, generally meet this obligation through a combination of local tax revenues and government grants. The relative contribution by local taxpayers and the provincial government varies from province to province, however, the differences may not be as great as the CEA survey indicates. Just as it is difficult to get accurate figures on provincial contributions to total board expenses so is it difficult to get meaningful figures on provincial contributions to board transportation costs. Should, for example, provincial property tax levies be viewed as local input since in most provinces property taxes are levied by local governments only? Provincial governments which levy property taxes use the revenues as provincial funds and, therefore, distort the relative contributions made locally and provincially. The interpretation of funding formulas even vary within a province. The five rural Saskatchewan boards which took part in the CEA survey reported significantly different percentages of provincial support even though the government authorities report that the government pays for almost 100% of bus costs. The five boards reported percentages ranging from 50% to 100%. In a system of unconditional provincial funding it is not uncommon to have different boards use different methods of calculating provincial input for specific services. In Saskatchewan provincial funding for conveyance becomes part of the recognized costs for boards but boards differ in their interpretation of the portion of board costs for specific expenditures which are covered by government grants. Undoubtedly, similar discrepancies occur in grant calculations in other provinces. Therefore, provincial comparisons need to be viewed with caution.

In general, provincial governments have been generous in providing support for the conveyance of students. In their turn, boards have taken their mandate to transport students, seriously. Accordingly, student conveyance in Canadian School Districts is of a high quality. The CEA report makes the following observations:

Since student transportation is a joint responsibility of provincial governments and school boards, both must continually review past performance and keep up their efforts to provide a safe operation offering good service in terms of efficiency and economy. This arrangement has resulted in excellent progress in the provision of a satisfactory and safe system.

Current budget restrictions have had their impact on student transportation services. Boards have examined all facets of busing in an attempt to affect savings. The following factors have received intensive board consideration:

Table of Contents

1. Pupils to be Conveyed

In rural Saskatchewan boards spend in excess of $1000 for every student conveyed. Thus, the number of students that a board will convey affects a board's budget significantly. It is important, therefore, that boards develop eligibility criteria for students who are to use buses.

Many provinces have regulations that state from what distance the province will fund the transportation of students. Boards must not exceed these distance limits but they may lower them and pay for the extra costs through local taxation. The CEA report summarizes the following distance limits used by the provinces:

Saskatchewan, it can be noted, has no established distance limit and the decisions on eligibility to ride the buses are left to the board. Board decisions on who is eligible to ride the buses are, therefore, not subject to financial penalties by the government.

The transportation of students to alternative program is considered a legitimate conveyance expense by most boards. The most common alternative programs would be French immersion and other language programs, vocational programs and programs for the gifted. Ordinarily, provincial support for conveying students to these programs is contingent upon the board's authorization of the programs.

Special education might also be classified as an alternative program but it does have one additional dimension. Handicapped students often need special consideration when being transported. Door-to-door pick-up may be necessary and modifications to the bus may also be necessary. In Saskatchewan, as in most provinces, provincial support is available to boards to carry out these special services.

The age of students is another consideration for boards. In Saskatchewan all kindergarten to grade 12 students qualify for conveyance service while younger children which have been designated as special education students (handicapped) also qualify.

Across Canada boards have considered transporting students for a variety of "special circumstances". Students with temporary or permanent health problems are sometimes given special busing considerations. Often distance limits are not enforced when a student's health is a consideration. Also, boards may deviate from general busing policies when safety is a factor. Students are sometimes bused across a major thoroughfare or dangerous railroad crossings.

A few boards are providing bus services for students to go home for lunch. This practice, in urban centers, may be adopted for economic, safety or public relations reasons.

Table of Contents

2. Reducing Routes

Reducing the number of bus routes in school divisions will normally result in savings. However, board members and administrators know that although reducing routes may result in savings, it may also create a variety of other problems. Routes are usually reduced by extending the remaining routes, by longer bus rides for students and by earlier pick-ups and later drop-offs. Parents and students are reluctant to have their routine interrupted and resent the inconvenience such changes may cause. In Saskatchewan the nature of the provincial formula for transportation is not a strong motivation for boards to consider reducing routes. The two factors that determine provincial funding for transportation are the number of students transported and the number of kilometers the buses travel. Reducing routes has, of course, no impact on the number of students to be conveyed but will, as is intended, reduce the number of kilometers that the buses will travel. If the number of kilometers travelled is reduced, then the provincial funding is also reduced since it is partially determined by the number of kilometers that the bus travels.

Reducing routes may also necessitate a change in the board's bus fleet. The board may have to get larger buses and dispose of smaller ones. Unless the savings are significant boards may be reluctant to reduce bus routes and incur the added expense of changing buses.

Fewer bus routes means fewer bus drivers. The board may have to deal not only with unhappy parents but with disgruntled ex-drivers. It is unlikely that boards will embark upon a route reduction program with all of its problems when virtually no financial gain results for the board. It would appear that some changes to the funding formula would be needed to encourage a thorough review of existing bus routes. The current funding formula has served Saskatchewan well for many years but a decreasing population in rural Saskatchewan and the severe economic conditions facing school boards suggest that a review of the formula or the method of collecting and using the busing data may be necessary.

The educational implications of fewer and hence longer bus routes also need to be taken into consideration. The impact of busing on student achievement will be discussed later in this report.

The reduction of bus routes must be viewed from a provincial perspective. There may be little or no financial gain for an individual board but if real savings can be affected by the reduction of bus routes all boards will eventually benefit from the changes. It is true that savings which result from fewer kilometers travelled by school buses accrue to the department but it is also true that monies saved by the department will find their way back to boards through other grant components. The savings affected through bus route reductions could then be made available to boards for other programs which may now have to be cancelled while potential savings in busing operations go unheeded. A review of bus routes by all boards has merits but its success is dependent upon a successful public relations program and a convincing education program. The public would likely consider some busing inconveniences if they could be assured that the savings will indeed be used to assist boards with other essential programs.

Table of Contents

3. The Use of Different Fuels

In an attempt to reduce busing costs some boards have experimented with the use of different fuels for buses. In addition to the use of gasoline, boards have tried propane, compressed natural gas and diesel fuel. The total cost of fuel used is dependent upon two factors. First, the amount of fuel used per unit distance travelled and secondly, the price per unit of fuel. The fluctuation in prices have made overall fuel costs comparisons difficult. Also, in addition to the costs of fuel boards must also consider such matters as the availability of a particular kind of fuel, the service costs associated with the use of a particular fuel and the inconvenience factor that accompanies the use of a certain type of fuel. In determining the type of fuel to be used boards need to ask the following questions:

  1. Will the use of a certain type of fuel be economical when costs of vehicles and the types of motors required along with the cost of the fuel are considered?
  2. Would the savings be great enough to justify the change-over costs on the present fleet of buses?
  3. Is the fuel (diesel, compressed natural gas or propane) available in the locations it will be required?
  4. Will the use of a certain fuel shorten or prolong the life of the motors in the buses?
  5. How will the use of a certain fuel affect the maintenance costs of the buses?
  6. Will the use of a certain fuel adversely affect the safety of the buses?

In 1986 Douglas R. Hindle undertook A Study on School Busing and reported as follows:

This study found that fuel and oil expenditures totalled 21.43 percent of the total cost, and significant amounts of alternate fuel usage were indicated. It would seem that the previous energy crisis and rural Saskatchewan's extreme sparsity factor have served not only to increase greatly the cost of transportation fuel but also to have fostered growing use of alternate fuels among the rural school divisions in this study.

Nipawin School Division No. 61 undertook a major project of changing some of its buses from gasoline to compressed natural gas. Some of the funds for the change-over were made available through the Education Development Fund (EDF). The division now has buses using gasoline, diesel or compressed natural gas. A unit costing report from the division covering the period May 1, 1991 to April 30, 1992 shows that fuel costs for the three types of fuel were 19 cents per km. 14 cents per km. and 13 cents per km. respectively for gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas. The total costs per km. were 28 cents, 26 cents and 24 cents respectively for gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas. Complete unit costing data are attached to this report as Appendix "A".

Table of Contents

4. Use of Public Transit

In urban centers some boards enter into contractual arrangements with the public transit system to convey their students to schools. The economics of such an arrangement are debatable. The CEA study received conflicting reports from the boards it surveyed. Two urban boards reported significant savings by using the public transit system while another board reported substantial savings when it cancelled its contract with the city and tendered to private contractors.

The desirability of using the public transit system is dependent upon many factors including (1) the number of students to be conveyed to a given location (2) the quality of the transit system (3) the spirit of cooperation that exists between the school and municipal officials and (4) the availability of alternate methods of transportation.

When the public transit system is used students are normally provided with bus tickets or monthly or yearly passes. In some cases special tickets are issued for students who qualify for student transportation.

Table of Contents

5. Sharing Routes

Sharing routes in rural Saskatchewan would be difficult although in some cases a rearrangement of school division boundaries could reduce the number of bus routes required. In urban districts and particularly when two boards share common boundaries the sharing of the bus routes has real possibilities. In Saskatchewan, with public and separate school systems, many urban centers do have two divisions sharing common boundaries. Again the sharing of bus routes by two different divisions brings with it other problems but the savings that can be affected by such an arrangement would suggest that it be explored.

Table of Contents

6. Size of Buses

A rearrangement of bus routes will generally call for a change in the size of buses required. Changing bus routes and procuring different size buses calls for careful and long-range planning. It may not be economical to switch from one size bus to another when there is no need to replace a bus. Bus replacement schedules need to be carefully considered when changes in buses are contemplated.

Table of Contents

7. Use of Computers

The advent of the computer has made more accurate and more detailed accounting possible. Bus contractors and boards are gradually making use of this new technology to not only improve their busing service but also to affect some savings. Computers can be used to assist with student data, information about the school using the bus service, route information, fleet information, driver information, presentative maintenance and precise accounting procedures. Appendix B details the use to which computers are used by one contractor in Saskatchewan.

Table of Contents

8. Owned vs. Contracted Buses

An analysis of board busing practices early in this report showed that aside from special education and "other" transportation, slightly more than 57% of board expenditures related to board-owned buses wile slightly less than 43% related to contracted buses. Such a division of expenditures would suggest that both methods meet the needs of boards.

A review of studies of the relative costs of board-owned buses and contracted buses across Canada and the United States would suggest that board-owned busing costs might be cheaper but that contractual arrangements, too, have appealing features. Several Saskatchewan studies have also found board-owned operations to be more economical. A study by France (1971) calculated contracted services to be approximately 18 per cent higher than the costs of board-owned bus transportation. In 1983, the Buffalo Plains School Division reported that switching from contracted to a board-owned operation resulted in savings of 13 to 15 percent. More recent studies by boards in Saskatchewan indicate that savings ranging from 4 to 18 percent can be affected by using board-owned buses.

The advocates of board-owned operations contend that an efficiently run system should be able to generate monies for the board equivalent to the "profit margin" that the contractor needs. Board-owned proponents also suggest that board control is reduced by contracted busing and that the education program suffers from the loss of control. The amount of control that a board loses varies from board to board since it dependent not only on the personality of the board members and the contractor but also on the agreement that is negotiated between the board and the contractor. The contractor, on the other hand, contends that he/she can run a more efficient operation because it is "his/her business". Busing is indeed the contractor's business and all things being equal he/she should be able to run an efficient operation. Contractors also suggest that often boards do not include all costs when calculating the costs of operating their own buses. Such costs as secretarial time, administrator's time and time spent by board members at meetings dealing with busing issues may not be accurately assessed. Table 4 outlines the figures developed by a board that has both board-owned routes and contracted routes. Similar figures are available from other boards also with but minor variations. However, the questions raised by board-owned advocates and by contractors are not answered directly in these statements and we can expect the differences in opinions to continue. That boards are ambivalent on this question is evident from the split in the number of boards using either board-owned or contracted buses and by the number of boards who use both arrangements in their division. Undoubtedly, many local circumstances influence the board in deciding to use board-owned buses, contract buses or a combination of the two.

Table of Contents

9. Busing Grants

The foundation grants formula used in Saskatchewan does not provide for direct busing grants to boards. Busing costs become a recognized cost and as such have a direct bearing on a board's operating grant. The recognized costs for busing, unlike those for other board operations, have been kept at a level that closely approximate the actual busing costs. This may not be true for every individual board since the constants used to determine a board's recognized costs represent average costs and cannot take into account unusual circumstances which are sometimes found in some jurisdictions. The recognized costs are determined by the sum of two calculations. The first calculation is the product of the number of students transported by the jurisdiction and a uniform recognition per student determined by the department. For 1992 this amount is $133. The second calculation is the product of the number of daily kilometers travelled by the division's buses and a uniform per kilometer allowances determined by the department. For 1992 this amount is $149. By way of example a board that would transport 700 pupils daily and whose buses would travel 5000 kilometers daily, the recognized costs would be calculated as follows:

Daily pupils transported = 700 x $133 = $ 93,000
Daily kilometers = 5000 x $149 = $745,000
Total recognized costs = $838,100

This amount does not include special education transportation nor "other" transportation. For an average school division the recognized costs of $838,000 should closely approximate the actual costs for regular busing by that school division. However, with but two determinants used for calculating the recognized costs discrepancies can indeed occur. The condition and nature of the roads vary considerably from one division to another as does the concentration of students. The actual costs can be reduced if students are concentrated in several centers rather than scattered throughout the division. It would be difficult for the formula to take into account the road conditions since they change from time to time, however, a "density" factor could probably be added as another recognized cost determinant. It is likely that such a factor could make for a more equitable distribution of monies available for transportation.

There are at least two measures of density that could be used as indicators of busing costs. They are often referred to as area density and linear density. Area density refers to the relationship between the number of students in a jurisdiction and the area of that jurisdiction. It has limited value as a determinant for busing costs in that it does not take into account bus services required or not required in certain areas. Linear density, on the other hand, is a measure of the number of pupils conveyed per linear kilometer of bus route. The linear density factor would be the ratio of the number of pupils conveyed per kilometer which could be used as a third indicator of busing costs. It should be noted, of course, that there would be an inverse relationship between the linear density factor and the costs per pupil conveyed. Saskatchewan Education has indicated that discussions about the use of a density factor in calculating busing costs have already taken place. It would appear that such a move would provide for a more equitable distribution of transportation monies. Hindle (pg. 52) reports that:

Density has been shown to have a substantial impact upon the costs of pupil transportation. Not only has density been viewed as a predictor of transportation cost but density has been revealed as a cost factor in itself and one over which boards of education have very little control. A number of studies have depicted the inverse relationship between linear density and the cost per pupil transported. This relationship has shown that as linear density increases the cost per pupil transported decreases.

Indeed, Hindle's study has found that not only was there a general inverse relationship between per-pupil transportation costs and linear density, but that per-pupil costs in the school division with the lowest linear density were more than twice as high as per-pupil transportation costs in the school division with the highest linear density.

Douglas Hindle did an extensive review of busing costs in selected Saskatchewan school divisions. His study, which includes an extensive review of the literature in Canada and the United States, raises some interesting possibilities for affecting savings in student transportation. His study, although limited to a review of cost factors, can serve as a helpful reference to boards who are planning changes to their busing operations. With Mr. Hindle's kind permission, a summary of his findings is attached to this report as Appendix C.

The Scharf-Langlois Report on School Finance and Governance, (1991), also addresses the matter of transportation grants to boards. The authors state that ".... it is very difficult, if not impossible to structure a formula based on distance and number of pupils to meet the varying needs and, at the same time, contribute to equalization". The report goes on to emphasize that grants must, first of all, provide equalization among school divisions and, secondly, grants must take into account the board's ability to pay. The authors of the report then suggest the following solution: "The best means of meeting the identified criteria is to provide transfer payments for transportation on a percentage equalization basis using actual expenditures incurred in providing approved transportation services". Such a procedure would represent a radical departure from the current emphasis on unconditional funding which has served Saskatchewan well for so many years.

Table of Contents

IV. Educational Implications

The effects that daily bus rides have no students is still the subject of debate even though it has lost some of its intensity. When the busing of students became more common in the 1940's educators and parents alikewondered about the impact that such a daily "ordeal" would have on the learning ability of the student. In rural Saskatchewan, in particular, some students spend close to three hours on the bus daily. This extended school day with its stresses and discomforts is still viewed with concern by some parents.

Many studies in Canada and the United States have addressed this issue. In 1982, Loraine Thompson did A review of Literature on the subject of school transportation and its effects on academic achievement and reported to the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association in May of that year. Her review included studies by Blanchard (1947), Straley (1956), Pauley (1958), Zelter (1970) and White (1971). She also reviewed Saskatchewan studies by France (1971), Scharf (1974) and Rees (1976). Loraine Thompson's conclusion was as follows:

In summary, the majority of studies which have examined the relationship between student achievement and bus transportation indicate that there are no significant differences in academic achievement between transported and nontransported students. In most cases the performances of bused students on various tests of basic skills and academic achievement equals that of nonbused students.

The relationship between school transportation and students' social adjustment was also examined. The research available on this subject, however, is so limited that it is difficult to draw reliable conclusions.

The studies available, however, did suggest that "a daily bus journey does restrict students' opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities. A long daily bus trip also reduces the amount of free time available to students and may interfere with their home relationships and family life".

The body of the Thompson report is attached as Appendix for ready access by boards.

Parents and students appear to have accepted daily bus transportation as a way of life in rural Saskatchewan and even in some urban centers. The recent release of the Scharf-Langlois Report (1991) with its recommendation for larger administrative units has created some apprehension by parents concerning the impact such as administrative reorganization would have on school centralization and busing. We know that roads have been improved, buses are more comfortable with more safety features and that advances in technology should allow us to extend bus routes without additional hardships for students. However, parents and students view this proposed administrative change with more than a little apprehension. Change is always difficult to accept and becomes particularly difficult to accept when the nature and degree of change are not known.

Table of Contents

V. Bus Safety

In recent years school bus safety has become the number one priority of school boards. The safety record of school buses has been, on the whole, excellent. However, even one accident which results in injury or death to but one child is one accident too many. As a result of one such accident in 1983 the Saskatchewan Department of Highways and Transportation issued a report entitled School Bus Safety (1984) which dealt with the many aspects of school bus safety. The report had the support and the direct involvement of the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association.

The areas of school bus safety are many with the following as the most obvious and the most common:

  1. Bus design and maintenance
  2. Driver competence and driving practices
  3. Student behavior
  4. Road conditions
  5. Safety education

In addition to the alternately flashing red light system used on school buses in Saskatchewan the School Bus Safety Report (1984) recommended the addition of stop arms to all school buses. With financial assistance from Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation all buses were retrofitted with stop arms and new buses were required to be equipped with stop arms. The report also recommended that serious consideration be given to discontinuing the use of van conversions "in favor of the more crash-worthy, small conventional school bus". This change was implemented over a period of time to allow boards to make the change-over without undue costs.

The matter of seat belts for buses became a contentious issue but the opposition to the use of seat belts outweighed the support for their use. The matter continues to receive the attention of boards, parents and governments and as changes in bus design continue the call for seat belts will continue to be heard.

The School Bus Safety Committee also recommended the preparation of a School Bus Driver's Handbook. This handbook was prepared as recommended and was distributed to all school bus drivers in Saskatchewan. A good school bus driver will be familiar with the contents of the handbook which defines a good school bus driver as follows:

A good driver is one who operates a vehicle in a safe and courteous manner. To be safe, you must know how to drive well. You must be able to operate a vehicle that is wider and longer than most privately-owned vehicles and that carries an active, unsecured cargo. Most importantly, "safety" for a school bus driver involves a commitment to doing things the right way every time.

Table of Contents

VI. Legislation and Policies

1. Legislation

Legislation and regulations concerning school buses are administered under the Education Act and the Highway Traffic Act. Boards, contractors and bus drivers should familiarize themselves with the pertinent sections of these Acts. Appendix E of this report summarizes the legislation specific to school boards and deals with such items as the duties of a school bus driver, railway crossings, sign identification, safety lights, checklists, board responsibility, protection from liability, alcohol and drug use and the use of seat belts. The Vehicle Classification and Registration Regulations spell out the differences between PS 10 and 13 respectively. These two sections appear in Appendix F of this report.

2. Proposed Legislation

Over the years the Transportation Council of the SSTA and a School Bus Safety Group have proposed a variety of legislative changes affecting school busing. These initiatives have resulted in legislative changes that have improved student transportation in Saskatchewan. Some of the more recent proposed changes relate to additional requirements to be met by drivers before taking an "S" endorsement test and a provision in the legislation that would allow the prosecution of vehicle owners who pass loading or unloading buses without stopping and providing that no such owner would be required to be jailed in lieu of payment of fines.

3. Policies

Boards are required to establish transportation policies. These policies vary from one board to another but most of them deal with such matters as bus safety, size of vehicles to be used, maintenance procedures, driver hiring policy, insurance levels, the transportation of handicapped students and discipline on the bus. Board policies may not, of course, contravene provincial legislation.

The table of contents of one board's busing policy includes the following:

The hiring of bus drivers is an important part of any board policy. There is a strong positive correlation between a good bus driver and such matters as bus safety, fuel economy, reduced maintenance costs and public relations with parents and students. Most boards have written hiring policies for bus drivers and those boards which do not have such written policies do follow specific, formal and consistent procedures. The procedures of one such board may be summarized as follows:

  1. The candidate should have had a drivers licence for at least five years.
  2. The board will give preference to applicants with good driving records over the last five years.
  3. Applicants with borderline records are referred to the board for a final decision.
  4. Applicants who have failed more than two road tests for a school bus endorsementhave their results reviewed by the board. Generally, experienced drivers who require more than two road tests are not hired while novices who require more than two road tests are required to take additional training.
  5. Successful new candidates are expected to spend a day or two on the regular route with an experienced bus driver.
  6. All drivers are expected to attend seminars on busing provided by the board. The board pays drivers for attending these seminars.

One division's complete busing policy, excerpts from another board's policy and a sample of a bus driver application form are attached to this report as Appendices G, H and I.

Table of Contents

VII. Conclusions and Considerations

1. Conclusions

Student transportation has become a sophisticated multi-million dollar operation for Saskatchewan school boards. The nature and extent of student busing has been determined by factors that are both geographic and demographic. Great distances and a sparse population leave boards little choice but to rely heavily on bus transportation. Should economic and educational considerations results in more centralization of schools, the busing of students might well become an even higher priority with school boards. Suitable alternatives to school busing do not appear to be on the horizon.

Many aspects of student transportation are governed by legislation. However, boards supplement provincial legislation and regulations with policies and practices that enhance their transportation programs. A review of board policies and practices indicates a high degree of uniformity in board priorities relating to busing. Nevertheless, in keeping with school board tradition, boards are not reluctant to deviate from the norm to address needs that are peculiar to their division. It is this commitment to "the best" in education and the belief in local autonomy that accounts for the use of both board-owned and contracted buses, the use of gasoline, diesel, propane or compressed natural gas for fuel and specified pick-up spots or door-to-door pick ups. A review of the provincial picture on student transportation leads one to believe it is indeed as it should be. There is a willingness to change practices but there is no assurance that all changes will be acceptable to all boards. This independent spirit of Saskatchewan school boards manifests itself in student transportation as it does in other aspects of the educational program and has, on the whole, served education well. Boards have been quite successful in addressing student comfort and student safety on buses despite the current economic constraints.

Table of Contents

2. Considerations

As boards review their busing operations they need to consider many factors that may have financial, educational or safety implications for them. A thorough analysis of current practices as well as an examination of available alternatives is imperative before more changes are implemented. One Saskatchewan board which had become disenchanted with its contracted bus services did an extensive study on the possibility of changing to board-owned buses. The problems associated with such a change-over were many with the costs of purchase for a complete fleet of buses ranking as the number one problem. However, the board's analysis showed that a change-over would still be to the board's advantage. Financial arrangements for the fleet of buses were made with repayments charged to the annual government grant allocations for transportation. This board has now paid for its fleet and is confident that it has a better student transportation system. Other divisions have changed from one kind of fuel to another with varying degrees of success. Geographic and demographic conditions vary so much from one jurisdiction to another that different practices are indeed necessary.

What are some of the factors that should be considered when contemplating changes to a board's transportation system?

  1. Road conditions
  2. Type of roads - hardtop, gravel, dirt
  3. Terrain - hilly, level, rivers, lakes
  4. Snow removal provisions in division
  5. Number of major population centers in division
  6. Linear density for the division
  7. Availability of fuel used in buses
  8. Cost of fuel used to be used in buses
  9. Availability of bus drivers
  10. Parental involvement in busing operation
  11. Parental demands for special services
  12. Average number of days annually that bus does not run due to adverse weather
  13. Sparsity of student population
  14. Alternate forms of transportation available

Boards cannot become complacent about their busing operations. Changes in technology, lifestyles, parental expectations and economic prospects make it imperative for boards to look for improvements in what may havebeen considered to be a successful busing operation. The review that many boards have already made of their busing operations attests to their willingness to accept this challenge.

Table of Contents

VIII. Bibliography

Canadian Education Association: Student Transportation in Canada: Facts and Figures. Toronto, 1987.

France, Norman: The Influence of a Daily Bus Journey on Pupil Achievement. Regina, Saskatchewan School Trustees Association Research Centre, 1991.

Hindle, Douglas R.: A Study of Factors Affecting the Cost of School Bus Transportation in Selected Saskatchewan School Divisions. Unpublished Thesis. Regina: University of Regina, July, 1986.

Melvin, J.C. and Kemp, Tom: A Report With Recommendations on the Feasibility of Constructing a School Bus Fleet Maintenance Facility in the Estevan Rural School Division. Saskatchewan School Trustees Association Research Centre, February, 1981.

Saskatchewan Department of Highways and Transportation: School Bus Safety. Regina: Government of Saskatchewan, may, 1984.

Saskatchewan Education: Saskatchewan School Division Statistical Information based on 1990 Calendar year. Regina: Government of Saskatchewan, November, 1971.

Scharf, M.P. A Report on the Declining Rural Population and Implications for Rural Education. Regina: Saskatchewan School Trustees Association Research Centre, 19784,

Scharf, M.P. and Langlois, H.O. School Finance and Governance Review. Regina: Saskatchewan Education, 1991.

Thompson Loraine: The Academic, Social and Physical Effects of Daily Transportation on Pupils. Regina: Saskatchewan School Trustees Association Research Centre, May, 1982.

Table of Contents

IX. Appendices

APPENDIX C (The Hindle Study)

Summary of the Findings

This study revealed the following general findings:

  1. During the 1984 fiscal year, pupil transportation constituted the second greatest expenditure (14.9 percent) for educational in rural Saskatchewan.
  2. For the 1984-85 school year, 62.7 percent of students attending rural schools were transported to school by bus.
  3. During the 1984-85 school year, 54.1 percent of Saskatchewan's rural school buses were division owned while 45.9 percent were privately owned.
  4. The cost of transporting one pupil in the school division with the lowest linear density was more than twice that of transporting a pupil in the school division with the highest linear density.
  5. Although differences in linear density existed among the study's school divisions, all displayed a substantially lower linear density than many of the school jurisdictions investigated by other studies.
  6. Generally, an inverse relationship existed between the total cost per pupil transported and the linear density. A noted exception to this trend was found in the mean total per pupil cost of school divisions with a linear density of .17.
  7. Within school divisions of the same linear density, substantial differencesexisted in the total cost per pupil transported.
  8. Within school divisions of the same linear density which displayed thelargest difference in the total cost per pupil transported, the expenditure for drivers' salaries was the cost factor most frequently explaining the greatest amount of the difference.
  9. Among school divisions with the same linear density, substantial per pupil expenditure differences frequently existed for the cost factor investigated in this study.
  10. Generally, but with noted exceptions, the per pupil expenditures for the cost factors of drivers' salaries, transportation fuel and oil, bus repairs, licensing and insurance, and garage expenses showed a general tendency to decrease as linear density increased.
  11. The cost factors of bus replacement, mechanics' salaries, employee benefits, driver-related expenses, and miscellaneous expenditures displayed no consistent or general trend to decrease as linear density increased.
  12. Figure 1 reveals, that when considered as a percentage of the total dollar expenditure for all school divisions included in the study, the cost factors could be divided into major and minor expenditure groups. Included in the major group, which totalled 91.47 percent of total dollars spent, were drivers' salaries, transportation fuel and oil, bus replacement, bus repairs, and mechanics, salaries. The members of the minor group, which equalled 8.53 percent of total dollars spent, included employee benefits, licensing and insurance, vehicle lease payments, garage expenses, driver-related expenses, miscellaneous expenses, and other salaries.
  13. Twenty-one of the study's school divisions operated their regular bus routes at a total of $1,965,348 below the monies allotted by Saskatchewan Education's foundation grant for pupil transportation.
  14. Five of the study's school divisions showed a total regular route deficit of $411,601.
  15. Of the five school divisions whose regular route transportation systems operated at a deficit, four had the largest linear densities of the school divisions included in this study.
  16. Fuel prices paid by the study's school divisions showed significant differences.
  17. The study's school divisions utilized two types of alternate fuels: propane and diesel.
  18. One hundred and fifty-one of the school divisions' 900 regular route buses(15.4 percent) employed alternate fuels. Propane vehicles outnumbered diesel 143 to 8.
  19. Among school divisions with the same linear density, the school division which either utilized alternate fuels exclusively or made use of a larger percentage of alternate fuels, frequently did not display the lowest cost er pupil for transportation fuel and oil. An exception was school division #11 in the linear density grouping .13.
  20. Although all school divisions owned their own transportation systems, seven contracted their bus repair and maintenance to the private sector.
  21. Measured as a percentage of regular route buses replaced, no consistent pattern of bus replacement existed for the school divisions examined in this study.
  22. The school divisions in the study frequently did not adhere to consistent accounting practices in the categorization of their expenditures.

Table of Contents


1. Summary of Findings

Centralized schools are common throughout most of North America. Where centralized schools exist, it is the usual practice to transport students from their homes to the school. While students transportation is most common in rural areas, it is sometimes necessary in large urban areas as well. Distance travelled by students may vary from one or two miles to 60 or 70 miles (one way) in northern or remote areas.

As early as 1939 educators expressed concern about the effect of transportation upon students. Lambert (1939) noted that the school days was considerably longer for transported pupils than for nontransported pupils.

Similar concerns have been expressed in more recent years. In October and November of 1973 the Saskatchewan Department of Education initiated the 1973 Fall Conference to provide for public discussion of educational issues (Saskatchewan Department of Education, 1973). Participants in the Fall Conferences identified conveyance of students as a major concern. Of particular concern was school bus safety and the length of time students are obligated to spend on the bus. Heavy emphasis was placed on the discomforts and stresses suffered by elementary school children who are obligated to ride bus over long distances and on the curtailment of home and extra-curricular activities (Saskatchewan Department of Education, 1973, p. 15).

The purpose of this project is to examine current and historical literature relating to the effects of school transportation. The academic (pupil achievement), social (school, community, religious, home, cultural, and recreational participation), and physical effects of student transportation will be discussed. A secondary objective of the project is to identify and describe activities and procedures adopted by schools to alleviate deleterious effects.

A search of the relevant periodical indexes, card catalogues and the ERIC database indicates that there is a large amount of literature related to school transportation. However, the bulk of this literature focuses on costs, equipment, safety and on busing for purposes of racial integration. Very little has been written about the academic, social and physical effects on students of a daily school journey.

>Most of the literature on this topic which does exist was written during the late 1950's and the early 1970's. Virtually nothing was written during the 1960's. Ress (1976, p. 20) suggests that this hiatus in reach may be due to acceptance of school transportation by the public during this period. In recent years a trend toward the reexamination of the role and effectiveness of the rural school has led to a new look at student transportation as well.

Issues of Academic, Social and Physical Effects of Daily Transportation

2. Academic Effects

2.1 Introduction

In this section the literature relating to the effects of school transportation upon academic achievement is examined.

Several research projects have been conducted which compare the I.O. and/or academic achievement of urban and rural students (Saskatchewan Department of Education, 1958, p. ii) (Carmichael and Rees, 1955) (Climenhaga, 1955) (Prtchard, 1956). At least one writer (Rees, 1976) has included discussion of such studies in a literature review relating to school transportation. Studies which compare the I.O. and/or academic achievement of urban and rural students have not been included in this literature review. Only those research projects which specifically address the issue of school transportation as it effects academic achievement are included.

2.2 Discussion

Straley's 1956 study was one of the earliest to appear in the literature. working with high school seniors in West Virginia, Straley found that when unmatched groups of transported and nontransported students were compared as to academic achievement, the difference in favor of the nontransported groups was statistically significant. However, when groups of transported and nontransported students were compared as to sex and I.O. thee was no statistically significant difference between the groups composed of girls and the groups composed of both boys and girls. In the groups composed of boys there was a statistically significant difference in favor of the nontransported group.

An Alberta study conducted the following year focused on elementary school students (Dunlop, Harper and Hunka, 1957). It was found that no difference in intelligence existed between canned and unvanned pupils at the grade two, four or six levels. However, it was found that the vanned group of grade two children were significantly lower in achievement that the unvanned group. This difference had disappeared by the grade four and six levels. Dunlop, Harper and Hunka found that differences in attendance between vanned and unvanned students were not significant in grades two and four, but became significant to the disadvantage of the vanned group at the grade six level. They attribute this to the traditional rural practice of keeping older children home to aid in seasonal farm operations.

Two American studies conducted in the early 1970's suggest that school transportation does not affect student achievement. White (1970) studied students in grades four, five and six (White 1971). He found that there was no statistically significant difference between transported and nontransported students on overall school adjustments, composite achievement test scores, teacher grades, attendance and peer acceptance scores. Zelter (1970) examined school bus riding time and school size as factors in the achievement of bus transported high school students in Montana. He concluded that bus riding time alone had no significant effects on transported pupils. Transported pupils riding the bus up to 90 minutes per day, one way, did not experience differences in grade point average or standardized test scores that can be attributed to the bus ride itself.

Studies by Blanchard (1947, p. 299) and Pauley (1958) also showed no differences in academic achievement between transported and nontransported students.

In 1970 France (1971a) carried out a study asking Saskatchewan principals and teachers for their opinions regarding the academic and social effects of a daily bus journey on students. In defense of the admittedly subjective design of this study France cites research which suggests that teachers "assessment of student attainment can prove, with appropriate statistical safeguards, to be more accurate than an objective test or examination" (1971a, p. 6). Sixty to seventy per cent of the principals responding to Frances' questionnaire were of the opinion that a daily bus journey has a negligible effect on academic achievement. The principals believe that the retarding effect of a bus journey is greatest for the youngest children. There was a very slight feeling that if any sex difference exists it affects boys more than girls. France also questioned classroom teachers in the same survey. Teachers indicated, that in their opinion, low achieving and high achieving groups of students did not differ significantly in regard to bus travel. In a related study the same year Grance (1971b, p. ll) asked for the opinions of teachers, parents and students regarding student transportation. Parents saw student transportation as having some detrimental effect on academic progress. They felt that the better educational opportunities provided by busing helped offset this disadvantage. Both parents and students reported a limitation of homework time due to busing.

In 1974 the Saskatchewan School Trustees association issued a report which examined the impact of the declining rural population on rural education (Scharf, 1974). In order to determine if being bused to school was related to school performance, the author of the report, Dr. M.P. Scharf, analyzed the variances of Canadian Test of Basic Skills scores of students in grades three to eight classified according to whether students were being bused to school. The number of significant differences was fewer than that expected by chance. Scharf concluded that busing children to school had no significant effect on C.T.B.S. scores (Scharf, 1974, p. 139).

A study conducted by Rees (1976) in the Assiniboia School Unit supports Scharf's findings. Rees found nothing to indicate that busing pupils to school had a retarding effect on achievement in the basic skills. Indeed there were some indications that bused pupils achieved at a higher level than nonbused students. Rees' study indicated that busing did not affect boys differently from girls or pupils attending multigrade classrooms differently from pupils attending single-grade classrooms as far as achievement in the basic skills was concerned.

The only significant difference between bused and nonbused pupils was found among grade eight boys. Grade eight boys attending single grade classrooms and riding school buses achieved at a higher level than did grade eight boys attending single grade classrooms and not riding school buses. Rees suggests that these results reflect the influence of lifestyle rather than busing. He suggests that "towns provide many diversions which have the potential to interfere with the progress of pupils either by tiring them or providing them with absorbing non-school interests. These diversions provably influence boys more than girls because parents tend to be more permissive with boys" (Rees, 1976, p. 161).

The majority of studies which examine the relationship between academic achievement and student transportation use class marks and scores on tests of basic skills as performance indicators, Foerstal (1969) took a different approach and compared work output of transported and non-transported high school students. He found that the work output of transported students was slightly less than nontransported students at the grade ten and eleven levels. Only at the grade twelve level was work output the same.

2.3 Conclusion

In summary, the majority of studies which have examined the relationship between student achievement and bus transportation indicate that there are no significant differences in academic achievement between transported and nontransported students. In most cases the performance of bused students on various tests of basic skills and academic achievement equals that of nonbused students.

One study (Rees, 1976) suggests that in certain circumstances bused students may achieve at a higher level than nonbused students. Three other studies (Dunlop, Harper and Hunka, 1957), (Straley, 1956), (Foerstal, 1969), suggest that in other circumstances bused students achieve less well than nonbused students.

3. Social Effects

3.1 Introduction

In this section the literature relating to school transportation and students' social adjustment is examined. Social adjustment includes students' personality development, acceptance by their peer group and participation in school, community, home, cultural and recreational activities.

3.2 Discussion

A 1947 (Blanchard) found that transportation was not a factor which influenced pupils' level of social acceptance. In contrast, two studies conducted in Alberta in the 1950's (Bonney, 1951) (Munro, 1957) found that vanned students were not accepted by their peers on an equal basis with town students, due in part to differences in socioeconomic and cultural background. It is doubtful whether the results of these studies would have relevant to today's situation. The tremendous economic, social and technological changes which have occurred since the mid-50's have resulted in elimination of many of the differences which once existed between urban and rural lifestyles.

White (1970) found that there was no statistically significant difference between peer acceptance of transported and nontransported grade four, five and six (White, 1971) students. However, he did find that nontransported students participated in extraclass activities mush more frequently than transported students.

In order to determine the relationship between a school journey and social and emotional adjustment Lee (1957) carried out a study in England with five to seven years old rural children. He found a greater degree of maladjustment among pupils who were not transported. He suggests that this is due to the fact that transported children were separated from their mothers for a longer period of time and thus had a reduction in maternal care.

As well as questioning teachers and principals about academic achievement in his 1971 study, France (1971a) sought their opinions about the effect of a daily bus journey on personality and emotional problems. Principals were about equally divided in their opinion as to whether the influence of a bus journey on personality development was significant or not. They felt that a daily bus journey had greater effect on personality and emotional problems than it did not academic achievement and that this effect was greater for boys than for girls.

This same survey asked for the opinions of classroom teachers. On the basis of teacher responses France concluded that the groups of pupils with the least satisfactory personalities appeared to be made up of children with less bus travel time (France, 1971a, p. 18).

Parents and teachers often state that bus students are forced to miss extra-curricular school activities. The research suggests that this concern is legitimate. Generally, bused students participate in extra-curricular activities with less frequency than do nonbused students. Scharf (1974, p. 144) found that, at the grade three to eight level, of those students not bused to school 21.3% indicated that they had been involved in extra-curricular activities. Scharf concluded that busing was a significant factor affecting extra-curricular involvement.

Morgan (1969) studies 227,079 Iowa students in grades seven to twelve. He found a consistent but weak relationship between participation in school activities and the distance from home to school, with students living the greatest distance away tending to participate the least.

White (1970), Straley (1956) and Pauley (1958) also found that transported students participated in extra-curricular activities less frequently than did nontransported students.

In addition, Pauley (1958) found that pupils who ride buses did not hold as many school offices as nontransported pupils and that transported pupils were considered less acceptable for leadership. Clutchey (1974) examined the extra-curricular participation patters of Ontario high school students. He found that nonbus students participated far more than did bus students in extra-curricular activities in years one and two of high school, but the trend was somewhat reversed in years three, four and five. While Clutchey does not discuss this phenomenon it can probably be explained by the fact that students in years three, four and five of high school are old enough to obtain drivers' licenses and thus can drive themselves to events. Clutchey also found a difference in participation between the sexes. Among the female students the percentage of bus students and nonbus students participating in extra-curricular events was virtually the same. Among male students almost twice as many nonbus students participated in athletic events than did bus students.

Clutchey's study indicated that while both bus and nonbus students accepted responsibilities for various home duties, there were differences in the use of discretionary time. Bus students got fewer hours of sleep, spent less time watching television and doing homework and spent less time in unorganized recreational activities. Church and community activities were more important in the discretionary time activities of bus students.

As well as limiting students' participation in extra-curricular activities student transportation can affect home life. This is particularly true of very long bus journeys. Ryan (1976) interviewed high school students and their parents in three remote Ontario communities. Students typically rode 50 to 70 miles (one way) to school and home each day. The one way bus trip was between 60 and 90 minutes in length. All parents interviewed expressed concern about their children riding on the bus each day. They said that the long bus ride interfered with students' home relationships. Students were often fatigued and irritable and had little time to participate in the routine activities of normal family life. Parents also complained that the situation was worsened by the quality of the bus ride. Buses were cold and bumpy and misconduct of students appeared to be the norm.

3.3 Conclusion

In summary, a daily bus journey does restrict students' opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities. A long daily bus trip also reduces the amount of free time available to students and may interfere with their home relationships and family life.

The current research on the effect of student transportation on personality development and acceptance by peers is so sparse that no reliable conclusions can be drawn.

4. Physical Effects

4.1 Introduction

The literature which discusses the effects of a daily bus journey upon students' physical health and well being is discussed in this section.

Three of the studies relevant to this issue focus on fatigue, general health and conditions on the buses (Solstad, 1975) (Ryan, 1976) (Clutchy, 1974). The fourth relevant study (Scharf, 1974) discusses the effect of the bus journey on the excretory functions of pupils.

4.2 Discussion

As one part of an extensive research project on the functioning of centralized comprehensive education in rural areas of Norway, Solstad (1975) conducted a study to determine students' reactions to school transportation. He used a questionnaire to collect data from about 1900 ninth grade students. The findings indicate that substantial numbers of students, especially those having to travel long distances, were physically upset by transport. Common physical problems included having a headache, feeling unwell, being car sick and feeling cold. Among the total sample about two per cent reported being car sick once or twice a week or more often, 12% suffered equally often from a headache, five percent felt unwell and 12% felt cold. About 15% of the total sample reported that they felt unwell during the first lessons because of the school journey. The students' attitude toward daily travel was increasingly unfavorable with distance travelled and with physical discomfort experienced.

Ryan (1976) interviewed students and parents in three remote northern Ontario communities. Parents indicated that fatigue and irritability were common among students who rode the bus long distances. Students were required to get up early in the morning, often well before the other members of the family and did not return home till 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. Much of their spare time during the evening and weekend was spent sleeping. Students complained that the buses were extremely cold, bumpy and generally uncomfortable and that the level of noise and disorder on the buses was distressing.

While Clutchey's (1974) study of the effect of busing on Ontario high school students did not examine physical effects in great detail, it did determine that bused students get fewer hours of sleep that nonbused students.

The fourth study which contains research relevant to the physical effects of daily transportation on students is Scharf's 1974 (p. 156) report. After interviewing teachers Scharf came to the conclusion that a bus journey right after breakfast had an upsetting effect on the excretory functions of younger pupils. This tended to affect the students' whole day.

4.3 Conclusion

Because so little research has been done relating to the physical effects of a daily bus journey on students, no definite conclusions can be drawn. The few studies which exist suggest that fatigue and physical discomfort are proportional to the length of bus ride.

5. Alleviate Measures

It might be expected that schools concerned about the effects of a daily bus journey on students would have compensatory programs of various types in place. Such programs might include rest periods for young children, alternate transportation arrangements allowing older students to participate in extra-curricular activities and hot breakfast programs for students of all ages.

No reports of any such programs are to be found in the literature. It appears that research relating to compensatory programs is virtually nonexistent. The only related discussion which does appear in the literature emphasizes improving the quality of the bus ride itself either by using the time for educational purposes or by preventing discipline problems during the bus ride.

Programs which use the time spent on the bus or educational purposes are varied. Two examples are described below. In Winnelka, Illinois (Ovitt, 1970) the bus journey was used for a "Head-Start" type program for young children with an emphasis on singing, discussion and games. Tanzman (1971) describes a program in which a videotape playback unit was installed on a bus or emotionally disturbed youngsters. The video unit was incorporated into the students' educational program. It also served to reduce misbehavior on the bus.

In an effort to improve the quality of the school bus ride schools have introduced a variety of programs designed to reduce disruptive behavior. These programs range from peer counselling (Lebovitz, 1981) to parent information programs (Stout, 1971) to behavior modification (Whitehurst and Miller, 1973) to the use of background music (McCarty, et al, 1978).

6. Implications for Further Research

Transportation of students is a fact of life in rural Saskatchewan. Regardless of the results of any number of research studies into the effects of busing on students there is little possibility that the among of busing will be significantly reduced.

Therefore, studies which merely examine the effects of busing are of limited value since they are unlikely to have any impact on current practices. Further research should emphasize compensatory programs as well as exploring the effects of busing. In addition, further research might propose alternate models of program delivery for students who live great distances from school and are required to ride the bus 70 to 100 minutes per day.

Research might begin with a detailed look at the types of program delivery used in other parts of the world which have sparse populations spread over a large geographic area, for example, Alaska, Australia and parts of the U.S.S.R. The situation in Norway could also be studied. An extensive research project on the functioning of centralized comprehensive education in rural areas of Norway was completed in the mid 1970's. Unfortunately, most of the documentation is in Norwegian (Solstad, 1975). Using this type of comprehensive overview as a basis, compensatory programs and alternate models of program delivery suitable for use in Saskatchewan schools might be developed.

Table of Contents


Sections 10 and 13 of The Vehicle Classification and Registration Regulations.

10(1) A class of vehicles to be called "Class PV" is hereby established consisting of vehicles to be used for the following purposes:

  1. as a personal conveyance;
  2. for the transportation of:
    1. passengers without compensation;
    2. goods oned by the registered owner of the vehicle;
    3. any commodity within the corporate limits of, and within and area having a radius of 10 kilometres from the corporate limits of, the city, town, village or hamlet shown in the certificate of registration as the address of the registered owner of the vehicle;
    4. recreational equipment where that transportation is not in connection with any employment or commercial or business enterprise;
    5. the registered owner of the vehicle and the employees of the registered owner;
    6. the registered owner of the vehicle and other employees of the employer of the registered owner for the purposes of the business of the employer;
    7. passengers pursuant to a private car pool arrangement under which the participants agree to use one or more of their vehicles for the purposes of travelling to and from their place of learning, employment or other common destination and to contribute to or share in the expense of providing the transportation;
    8. household effects, without compensation, to and from a private residence where the transportation is undertaken with a motor vehicle registered with a gross vehicle weight of 5,000 kilograms or less where the transportation is not in the course of any employment or business undertaking;
    9. goods owned by the employer of the registered owner of the vehicle or goods owned by the person using that employer's services where:
      1. the vehicle is registered with a gross vehicle weight of 5,000 kilograms or less;
      2. the vehicle is operated with a gross vehicle weight of 3,400 kilograms or less;
      3. the vehicle is not operated in combination with any other vehicle or vehicles; and
      4. the transportation of the goods is in the course of or incidental to the employment or business of the registered owner of the vehicle;
    10. goods of a lessee of the vehicle;
    11. Her Majesty's mail:
    12. newspapers, currency and documents;
    13. clothing, drapes, rugs and furs that are being carried to a dry cleaner for the purposes of dry cleaning;
    14. passengers where that transportation is provided on a volunteer basis for a purpose approved of in writing by a home care board, a special-care home board or a senior citizen activity centre board incorporated under The Non-profit Corporations Act or incorporated or continued pursuant to The Co-operatives Act, 1989, or by a non-profit, special-care home operated by the Department of Health of the Government of Saskatchewan and where the amount of compensation paid to the volunteer driver per trip does not exceed:
      1. the amount that would have been paid to him or her if the compensation had been calculated in accordance with the mileage allowance set out in the current collective bargaining agreement between Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Government Employees' Union, for the calculation of compensation where a privately owned vehicle is used;
      2. subject to paragraph (c), eight times the rate mentioned in paragraph (a) where the trip does not exceed eight kilometres; or
      3. four times the rate mentioned in paragraph (a) where the trip does not exceed four kilometres and there is passenger transportation service available that utilizes Class PC or Class PT vehicles:

13(1) A class of vehicles to be called "Class PS" is hereby established consisting of vehicles to be used for the following purposes:

  1. as a personal conveyance;
  2. for the transportation of:
    1. students to and from school;
    2. students under the administration of a school board to and from academic, social or athletic events connected with the programs of the school board;
    3. teachers, educational officers and other persons employed by a school board supervising students mentioned in subclause (ii) or for any other purposes connected with the performance of their duties;
    4. any person who has been authorized by the school board to accompany and supervise students being transported as described in subclause (i) or (ii);
    5. any ill or injured person to a place where medical services can be obtained if authorized by the school board and where there is no other transportation available; and
    6. goods owned by the registered owner;
    7. Her Majesty's mail.

(2) No person shall apply to register a vehicle, and no vehicle shall be registered, in Class PS unless the person to be named in the certificate of registration is a:

  1. school board; or
  2. person under contract with a school board to transport more than eight students to and from a school.

Table of Contents

Back to: Bus Transportation