School & Employee Bus Transportation

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Industry Structure, How Firms Opertate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Quarterly Insight, Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,600 school and employee bus transportation services in the US contract with public school districts, private schools, parents, colleges and universities, airports, and private businesses to provide bus and shuttle services for students and workers. About one-third of the 13,600 public school districts in the US outsource student transportation services and that number is expected to grow.

Aging School Bus Fleets

Faced with tight budgets, school districts postpone replacing older buses in their fleet.

School Bus Driver Shortage

Many school districts and transportation contractors are having difficulty meeting demand for school bus drivers.

Industry size & Structure

The average school and employee bus transportation firm has 65 employees and generates about $4-5 million in annual revenue.

    • The school and employee bus transportation industry consists of about 2,600 companies employing over 171,000 workers and generating about $12.7 billion in revenue.
    • There are about 13,600 public school districts in the US, along with over 32,400 private schools, and 7,200 charter schools. Many school districts operate their own bus transportation services and about one-third outsource to transportation services firms.
    • There are about 476,000 school buses operating in the US transporting more than 23.2 million children to and from school and school-related activities. The average school bus carries 49 student passengers.
    • The average annual public expenditure to transport a student by bus is $850-900.
    • The industry consists of many small companies providing services to a local area - 63% of firms have less than 20 employees.
    • The 20 largest firms account for about 51% of industry revenue.
    • Large firms include First Student (part of FirstGroup, PLC), Durham School Services (part of National Express Group, PLC), Student Transportation of America, and North American Central School Bus.
                                  Industry Forecast
                                  School & Employee Bus Transportation Industry Growth
                                  Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                  Coronavirus Update

                                  May 24, 2022 - E-Rate Funding Proposed For School Bus Wi-Fi
                                  • Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal to allow E-Rate funding for school bus Wi-Fi. E-Rate provides discounts for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries. The E-rate program administered by the Federal Communications Commission has been a sore subject among some in the school bus industry for its failure to include busses under the same umbrella as schools and libraries for Internet access.
                                  • Local leaders and health officials are struggling with changing conditions as they manage their mask mandates. The city of Philadelphia, PA, reinstated in mid-April a mandate requiring a mask to be worn in indoor public spaces, only to cancel it within days due to what city board of health members called "decreasing hospitalizations and a leveling of case counts." Officials are again requiring masks to be worn on all public transit within Los Angeles County, CA, including buses, trains, taxis, and ride-hailing service vehicles. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that the order is based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's opinion that mask-wearing on transit remains an essential step in preventing spread of COVID-19.
                                  • School bus driver strikes have taken place in North Carolina, Maryland, and New Mexico. Drivers in some areas in Smithfield, RI, authorized a strike in early November but had not acted on it. Drivers who went on strike in Cumberland County, NC, say that they are protesting low wages and increased workloads amidst a massive nationwide shortage of bus drivers exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
                                  • Workplace occupancy, an indicator of demand for employee bus transportation, was 43.2% for the seven-day period ending on May 4, down slightly from 43.4% for the seven-day period ending on April 27 but still up from 40.5% for the seven-day period ending on April 20, according to data gathered from swipes of access control cards in buildings with security systems provided by Kastle Systems. The Austin, TX, metropolitan area had the highest occupancy for the seven-day period ending on May 4 at 60.3%. The San Jose, CA, metropolitan area trailed all others tracked at 33.3%.
                                  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that cleaning once a day is usually enough to minimize the chance of coronavirus transmission in most settings. School and employee bus transportation firms are likely to benefit if the guidance results in lower pandemic-related cleaning costs. The CDC did identify one appropriate situation for deep cleaning: an indoor environment where a case of COVID-19 had been confirmed within the past 24 hours.
                                  • Many school districts are facing bus driver shortages. A key cause of driver shortages is that many drivers are old enough to be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and have opted not to drive during the pandemic. Some districts hope that younger people will apply for driver positions, but industry experts note that requirements for bus drivers are more stringent than in the past, so a considerable amount of time may pass before new applicants can get behind the wheel.
                                  • Employment in the school and employee bus transportation industry decreased 2.1% year over year in March but was down 20% compared to the pre-pandemic month of March 2019.
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