Kyle Olson

New York City Schools Spend $6,900 Per Student - on Bus Transportation!

Government schools are an expensive endeavor, especially when union labor and no-bid contracts are involved.

The New York City Department of Education has been catching heat from transportation unions lately over a decision to solicit bids for private transportation services in an effort to curtail runaway costs.

The district has not sought “significant” bids for student transportation services in 33 years. That means it’s probably been using the same companies for years, without competitive bids to naturally control rising costs.

And those costs are increased every year because the companies use high-paid union drivers.

In response to the union criticism, the DOE recently issued a “School Bus Bids FAQ” which makes a staggering admission: the city spends $6,900 per student (for a total of $1.1 billion) per year for bus transportation.

In a 180 day school year, that’s $38.33 per student a day. At that rate it might be more cost-effective for the school system to distribute vouchers for kids to take taxis.

City officials say New York spends more than twice what Los Angeles (the nation’s second-largest city) spends on K-12 student transportation.

They point out that a recently bid contract for pre-kindergarten bus services saved the city $95 million over five years.

The unions are obviously upset because competitive bidding means companies seeking a city transportation contract will naturally want to control their labor costs. Higher wages and expensive benefits for drivers means a higher bid, and a higher bid may fail to secure the contract.

The unions are also upset because the city is removing a provision from its bidding rules that says companies must retain drivers during layoffs based on seniority.

Union officials say less experienced drivers could compromise safety and put students at risk.

The DOE claims the bus unions may strike as a result of losing seniority, leaving 152,000 students – including 54,000 who require special transportation services – without a ride to school.

Such a threat was lodged previously by the Amalgamated Transit Union when the city solicited bids for the pre-K contract.

So instead of allowing the city to save tax money through a bidding process, and allowing the bus contractors to retain the best (not necessarily the most senior) drivers, union officials and supportive politicians are screaming bloody murder.


Kyle Olson

Kyle is founder of Education Action Group and EAGnews.org, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.

He is co-author of Glenn Beck’s “Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education,” available at Amazon.com.

Kyle is a contributor to Townhall.com.

He has made appearances on the Fox News Channel, The Blaze, Fox Business Network, NPR and MSNBC. Kyle has given scores of interviews on talk radio programs coast to coast.

Kyle likes talking about his family, as well as his favorite music. Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Johnny Cash are at the top of the list. He has attended 25 Bob Dylan shows.

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