Joe's Blog

School Transportation Shifts its Focus to Higher Ed


Concurrent Zanola Company projects with governments of college towns and school districts have led us to notice some interesting connections between these separate clients. We have recently done extensive work in college towns with large state universities who have rapidly expanding off-campus student housing. We have also been doing research on school districts across the country cutting their budgets, specifically in the areas of school-provided transportation. In this process, we have seen that student transportation is losing its status as a certainty for elementary students while becoming an amenity for higher education.

As state and local budgets for education have tightened across the country, Zanola Company has seen that some districts have responded by cutting bus service. Usually this just means reducing the number of stops and not picking up students who live close to the school, but certain communities have made more sweeping changes and eliminated all school bus transport. The state of Hawaii eliminated busing across its most populous island for a year and several school districts in Texas, California, and Alabama have either proposed or enacted cutting all basic bus travel for their students. These decisions are often incredibly controversial and impact not just the students, but the property values and sense of community. Even when the service is later reinstated, parents and students can no longer be certain that schools will always provide transportation.

At larger colleges, the opposite is happening as some universities are working with newer private student housing complexes to make sure that students can take shuttles to the campus. We have seen major universities extend their shuttle lines out past the campus to stop at or near these large student rental complexes. For the newer complexes, not having to arrange your own transport to campus is just another amenity in these new, amenity-rich rental complexes to help distinguish themselves from the competition.

Being able to make these connections can help Zanola Company in forecasting and with future client projects - and it's also really interesting to us to see our client projects intertwine!

By Angelo Zanola