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 Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation 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

                                  Recent Developments

                                  Mar 4, 2023 - Diesel Prices Remain Volatile
                                  • Retail diesel prices were decreasing in late February after rising steadily during January. The weekly US Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration price for February 27 decreased 8.2 cents a gallon to $4.294 a gallon. It was the fourth consecutive week in which the benchmark price used for most fuel surcharges fell and the 13th time in the past 16 weeks. The price dropped 32.8 cents a gallon during the previous four weeks.
                                  • The US price of gasoline averaged about $3.40 per gallon in February, according to GasBuddy. That's down 6% year over year, but up 2% from January. Price decreases may be temporary as gasoline usage is seasonal and typically rebounds during the spring and summer months. Analysts also note that China is in recovery mode from its COVID-19 lockdowns, and some analysts expect the cost for oil and refined products to increase as that economy ramps up its energy consumption. GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan says that prices could exceed $4 per gallon by April.
                                  • More than 95% of the first wave of $1 billion in US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for alternative-fuel school buses will go to electric buses, with relatively few dollars set aside for vehicles that run on low-emission fuels like propane or natural gas. The EPA almost doubled its funding for alternative-fuel school buses to close to $1 billion after school districts from all 50 states applied for rebates. The first round of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2022 was supposed to free up $500 million but the EPA received about 2,000 applications, amounting to nearly $4 billion in requested funding. Another $1 billion round of funding for school buses will be made in the 2023 fiscal year, according to the EPA. The agency plans the next funding program, which will include a grant competition, to launch in the next few months.
                                  • Workplace occupancy, an indicator of demand for employee bus transportation service, was 50.1% for the seven-day period ending on February 22, up from 49.8% for the seven-day period ending on February 15, and 48.6% for the seven-day period ending on February 8, according to data gathered from swipes of access control cards in buildings with security systems provided by Kastle Systems. Occupancy has rarely hit the 50% mark since the early days of the pandemic despite attempts by many organizations to bring employees back. The Austin, TX, metropolitan area had the highest occupancy for the seven-day period ending on February 22 at 66.4%. The San Jose, CA, metropolitan area trailed all others tracked at 41.2%.
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