The cost of student transportation has been on the rise in recent years.

With more than 25 million school children taking one billion student trips each school year, rising costs can leave parents and boards of education concerned about the availability and affordability of getting children to school. This is especially true in cases where standard busing does not fit for the students’ needs and specialized transportation is required. To combat these rising costs and remove barriers to accessing education, CTS has made it our mission to increase the availability and affordability of specialized transportation services for students.

Rising transportation costs can be attributed to several factors, but many of these are outside of the control of individual school districts and therefore can be difficult to mitigate. Increases in fuel costs and contracting fees, along with school consolidations and the expansion of school choice, have left boards of education with stretched budgets and more complicated transportation logistics. State and federal mandates can also contribute to rising costs, although their impact can vary state-by-state where mandates may differ (Vincent, Makarewicz, Miller, Ehrman, & McKoy, 2014).

School consolidations in particular can have a major impact on student transportation. While consolidated schools may be less expensive to operate over longer periods of time, consolidation increases the distances between schools and therefore the cost of transporting students to campus rises correspondingly. Some studies have found an inverse relationship between school closures and private vehicle use, where the use of private vehicles to transport students to school increased as the total number of schools decreased (Vincent et al., 2014). For families with limited income or schedule flexibility, students with specialized transportation needs, those in foster care, or displaced students, getting to school using private vehicles may not be an available or cost-effective option. Instead, district-provided transportation services may be necessary.

Some studies have suggested that the most effective way to mitigate the cost and complication of transporting students is to utilize a mix of strategies that addresses problem areas individually. It was found that adopting a mixed strategy that specifically addressed needs like safety, quality, and affordability was more effective than using a single, broad strategy when adjusting to changes in transportation costs (Vincent et al., 2014).

Whatever the strategy, removing barriers to education by improving transportation access is paramount to helping promote educational stability and the opportunity for student to reach their potential. CTS recognizes that safe, secure and customizable transportation options that fit the needs of students, families and schools are necessary for success. CTS has developed numerous programs to facilitate safe and reliable transportation services to students with diverse needs including a county-focused program that reduces costs of both in and out-of-district transportation. This program cuts back on the overall costs, fuel, emissions and redundancies often associated with specialized transportation, with the cost savings from the program passed back to participating school districts. Amid the rising costs of student transportation, it is imperative that school boards seek new and diverse ways to meet the transportation needs of their students.

For more information on CTS’ student transportation programs, click here!


Vincent, J. M., Makarewicz, C., Miller, R., Ehrman, J., & McKoy, D. L. (2014). Beyond the Yellow Bus: Promising Practices for Maximizing Access to Opportunity through Innovations in Student Transportation. Center for Cities & Schools, University of California Berkeley, 1-46.