This one will strike a chord, I'm certain.
I awoke this morning to a beautiful fall rainy day. The weather shifted during the night and we dropped from 85 to 45 in a short amount of hours. While I should have been dressing for a run, I didn't. I looked up statistics on a controversial topic amongst some of my mom friends....school transportation. Yep, I'm a dork.
So I want to give the facts... numbers are the most consistent means of persuasion in my opinion. If they are indisputable, then it just is what it is.
In terms of TIME: On average, my mom (and sometimes dad) friends spend approximately 30 minutes (at LEAST) of their time each morning and evening sitting in the "car rider lane" at their kiddo's respective schools. For my math major friends, that's an hour a day (yep, I'm sarcastic today).
According to the Missouri Department of Education, there are 174 school days in operation. Total hours spent over a nine month period in the car rider lane = 174 hours. You are getting my point I'm sure - LOTS of time is spent in the car rider lane. I can think of a TON of productive things I can do in 174 hours!
So for those of you with the argument of SAFETY, here are those facts: In 2004 (last data captured), 45,625,458 students were bused in the United States. This averages 54 students per bus. In 2009 according to the national bureau of stats, 800 school age kids were killed in vehicular accidents. Less than TWO percent of that total (16 kids) were killed on a BUS (those include ALL bus related accidents, not just the ones taking kids to school). The remaining 98% of school age kids died either in their family's vehicle or on foot/bike.
Okay, so for the FINANCIAL facts:
The United States earmarks $17.5 BILLION dollars each year in state funding for school transportation. That averages to $692 per student per year. Obviously each year that figure gets cut due to the current economic conditions; however how do you suppose that money is raised? YOUR TAXES!
Also - sitting in the car rider lane an hour a day adds an additional 180 gallons of fuel per year to your personal usage... approximately $663 a year to YOUR personal budget in additional fuel cost. Not to mention that although you are virtually sitting still the majority of that time, the often additional trip to and from school adds on average an additional 3,600 miles to your vehicle per year.
And finally - I won't even go into the environmental concerns of adding an additional billion cars on the road (of which 30% of the morning traffic is attributed to parents toting their kids to school), the carbon dioxide that is swimming around the school as the other kids try to enter the building due to the car rider lane cars, etc.
What I hear a lot also is that the bus isn't a great environment. Kids will learn things on the bus. I've got news for my friends: if you think the things your kids will hear and learn on the bus are any different than what they will hear and learn in the halls and at recess during school, I think you might be a bit naive. Love ya!
As my little guy went to the bus this morning in the rain smiling the whole way, he reminded me how fun it is to ride the bus. His bus in particular is a blast ~ the kids actually sing songs all the way to school and home every day. His driver is awesome, knows all the kids personally and isn't cranky to be a bus driver. They see their friends, forge independence and bravery and have some social time outside the confines of the school building.
I'm sure there are some bus experiences that SUCK just like there are people everywhere in the world that SUCK. But for me, there is an outstanding amount of evidence to show that it is a safe, economical, fun and time saving way for our kids to be transported. Just one girls opinion...