The Special Commission on Student Transportation Efficiencies, co-chaired by Senator Adam Hinds and State Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) announced completion Thursday of a comprehensive study of student transportation issues, including findings and recommendations for efficiency improvements.  

According to a media release from the offices of both lawmakers, student transportation has become a significant challenge for school districts across the Commonwealth. Massachusetts is home to a diverse array of districts – including urban and rural, well-resourced, and underserved, as well as regional, vocational, technical, and agricultural – meaning districts face difficulties specific to their regions. Many factors contribute to these difficulties including, but not limited to, increased costs, driver shortages, geographical distances, and procurement issues. 

We heard overwhelmingly the need to rethink school transportation. Improving student transportation means ensuring transportation dollars go to districts that need it most... That meant rural regional schools that confront the challenges of inefficient transportation and non-regional district needs as well. Minimizing our environmental impact was important to this process, including exposure to pollutants from buses that are harmful to children and disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. ~ Senator Hinds

 

The Commission was established to conduct a comprehensive study of school transportation issues and make recommendations for efficiency improvements, including for the following areas: students attending regional schools; students in special education out-of-district placements; students attending out-of-district vocational and technical schools; students attending out-of-district agricultural schools; and any other student transportation issue deemed appropriate. 

During the information gathering-phase regarding specific student groups and transportation-related topics, the Commission discovered a number of issues that merited further study, leading Senator Hinds and Representative Peisch to direct the Commission to add to its purview ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributed to student transportation. 

After months of discussion and deliberation, the Commission developed the recommendations contained in the final report. The Commission’s recommendations do not propose a singular approach to promoting efficiencies in the student transportation system, nor do they include a comprehensive analysis of the merits of improving the current structure. The recommendations presented in this report are a compilation of solutions identified by various stakeholders while incorporating efficiency strategies into their existing student transportation models and identifying practical solutions to existing fiscal, educational, and capital issues. The goal is to use this report as the baseline to address improvements to student transportation under the current regulatory framework and possible new policies in future legislative sessions. 

You can download the complete report HERE.

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