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Hidden costs of Maryland's development patterns
schoolbus.jpg
Published 11 November 2007 by Smart Growth Online (original article)

1000 Friends of Maryland have documented one hidden cost of Maryland's recent development patterns -- the rapidly increasing school bus budget. Their report, Yellow School Bus Blues, focuses on two issues local governments can control. Local governments' decisions affect the number of students in the county and where these students live. Land use decisions also determine if schools are located so that students can walk or bike to school.

Published 11 November 2007 by Smart Growth Online, http://www.smartgrowth.org/library/articles.asp?art=3108&res=1280

[Neither this article nor the report it refers to directly addresses peak oil, but it's relevant to Post Carbon Cities. Land use patterns are closely tied to public expenses, in this example for school transportation, and they create or limit transportation options. The expense of buses that travel farther will in turn be magnified in an energy-constrained market, limiting access to education. - Ed.]

Yellow School Bus Blues

Yellow School Bus Blues from 1000 Friends of Maryland documents one hidden cost of Maryland's recent development patterns -- the rapidly increasing school bus budget. Since 1992 statewide expenditures for school bus transportation have more than doubled, to $438 million.

While there are other factors that affect these costs such as inflation, wage increases, rise in gas prices, and the need to open or close local schools, Yellow School Bus Blues focuses on two issues local governments can control. Local governments' decisions affect the number of students in the county and where these students live. Land use decisions also determine if schools are located so that students can walk or bike to school.

Key findings include

  • From 1992 to 2006 the total miles traveled by all Maryland county school buses increased by 25%. Maryland school buses now travel over 117.2 million miles a year, a 23 million mile increase.
  • Statewide, school bus costs rose 104%. The combined county budgets rose from $215 million spent in 1992 to $438 million in 2006. In just under 15 years the cost to bus students more than doubled.

Recommendations from 1000 Friends of Maryland include:

  • Maintain existing neighborhood schools.
  • Locate new schools where more students can walk or bike to school.

  • Connect schools with bike lanes and sidewalks to make it safe for students to get to or from schools.

The report is available online.

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