Students, Parents, Administrations and Communities Continue to Demand Improved Student Transportation
Every day 27 million kids ride to and from school on the largest mass transit system in the US and it remains broken. The system has barely changed in the last 80 years.
At Zum, we are leading the charge to modernize student transportation and make it safe, reliable, sustainable, and equitable. Our second annual survey, 2023 Student Transportation Report Card, helps us understand critical trends we need to address. We commissioned a third-party survey of 1,500 American parents of school-aged children to see how they feel about the student transportation system particularly with regard to safety, environmental sustainability, and technology-enabled efficiency.
Table of Contents
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- Parents Agree Student Transportation Is Outdated And In Need Of Modernization
- Parents express concerns about child safety
- Parents Are Overwhelmingly Demanding Tech-Enabled Solutions
- Parents voice concern about environmental footprint of buses
- Looking ahead to student transportation in 2023 and beyond
Summary of Key Findings
- 91% of parents believe the school bus system in America could improve.
- 80% of parents are concerned that the current school bus system is NOT safe, efficient, and good for the environment.
- 84% of parents say they would use a mobile app to know where their child is on the school bus.
- 82% of parents agree knowing if and when a child got on or off their school bus should be as easy as knowing if and when a package was delivered.
- 84% of parents expressed concern about environmental issues that stem from diesel school bus fumes creating harmful air for students and communities.
- 52% of parents surveyed believe it is important to convert diesel school buses to electric.
- 76% of parents think teachers and school bus drivers should be compensated better than they currently are because they are a foundational element of children’s daily lives.
- The majority of parents cited child safety as their biggest concern with the school bus system.
- 44% of parents said their child has been negatively impacted by unnecessarily long bus commutes or failures in the school bus system (i.e. missed after-school activities, arrived at school late, or gotten home from school late in the evening).
- More than a third of parents reported that their ability to work or perform well at their job has been impacted by school transportation issues for their children.
Parents Agree Student Transportation Is Outdated And In Need Of Modernization
The most concerning aspect of student transportation for parents is ensuring their child is safe on the bus. Additional concerns include long commute times, challenges in accessibility, and environmental impact.
Student transportation hasn’t changed in several generations, with the majority of schools still relying on antiquated communications tools (paper bus routes, clipboards, walkie talkies). 91% of parents surveyed feel the school bus system in America could improve.
44% of parents surveyed said their child has been negatively impacted by unnecessarily long bus commutes or failures in the school bus system, such as missed after-school activities, arriving at school late, or getting home from school late in the evening.
And long commutes and an outdated system aren’t just affecting students: More than a third of parents reported that their ability to work or perform well at their job has been impacted by school transportation issues for their children.
Parents Express Concerns about Child Safety
80% of respondents agree that the current student transportation system is not safe, efficient, and good for the environment.
The biggest concern parents had about their child riding the bus was safety. Safety was also the top concern in 2022. Other concerns included a lack of tracking and visibility (i.e. not knowing if their child gets on or off the bus), a pickup and/or dropoff that is not reliable or convenient, a commute that is too long, buses that are not accessible to everyone in the community, and concern that the buses are harmful to the environment.
Parents Are Overwhelmingly Demanding Tech-Enabled Solutions
Parents expressed a desire to modernize and streamline student transportation with increased technology and digital communication. 84% of parents surveyed said they would use a mobile app to know where their child is on the school bus.
Additionally, 82% of parents surveyed agreed knowing if and when a child got on or off their school bus should be as easy as when a package was delivered. This is an increase from 67% in 2022. This data increase highlights the evolving expectation we have on utilizing world class technology to benefit our lives, and Zum is leading the way to make student transportation more transparent and reliable.
Parents voice concern about environmental footprint of buses
Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., with over 90% of the nation’s 500,000 school buses running on diesel.
84% of parents surveyed expressed concern about environmental issues that stem from diesel school bus fumes creating harmful air for students and communities, this is a significant jump from 72% in 2022. This increase underscores the urgency imperative to address the health risks and transition currently under way at Zum to fully electric fleets, which is currently underway at Zum. 52% said they believe it is important to convert diesel school buses to electric. Zum will make major strides against electrifying our fleets in the coming year.
Parents surveyed said if their school district had all electric buses for their children to ride, they would feel that their school district is doing its part to preserve our planet (43%), that their school district cared about their child’s health (24%), that their school district was an industry leader (17%), and incredibly proud (17%).
Looking Ahead to Student Transportation in 2023 and Beyond
In review, data show that parents have concerns about today’s student transportation system and believe it needs improvement. Parents are ready for tech-based solutions that focus on their child’s safety and location. Many parents are also concerned about long commutes to and from school and the negative impact of diesel school buses.
Among the parents surveyed who do not use the school bus to transport their child to school, 49% said they would reconsider if they could track their child’s arrival and departure. 34% said they would reconsider if routes were optimized and commute times were reduced, and 16% said they would reconsider if the school buses were electric.
As a school bus driver shortage persists in school districts across the nation, 76% of parents also said they think teachers and school bus drivers should be compensated better because they are a foundational element of children’s daily lives. 22% of parents said they feel that being a school bus driver is a critical role in children’s development, and 18% said they feel it is one of the most important jobs in our country.
Zum’s mission to modernize student transportation to make it safer, more reliable, more sustainable, and more equitable aligns with parents’ feelings about the current school bus system.
Our work gives parents, administrators, and drivers real-time location information and route optimization. We also facilitate better communication, reduce transportation costs, and prioritize sustainability.
At Zum, we are proud to partner with school districts across the U.S. and are committed to building a healthier, safer, and greener educational experience for millions of children.
All data found within this report is derived from a survey by Zum conducted online via survey platform Pollfish from Aug. 7-8, 2023. In total, 1,500 adult American parents with school-aged children were surveyed.