All Aboard! The Back Story on Bus Rides to Blake
Blake is committed to offering a top-notch program that serves our families’ needs while also reducing our community’s collective environmental impact and lessening traffic congestion on campus. (Read more about the many benefits of Blake’s bus service here.) We also strive to provide the highest quality bus service at the lowest possible cost. In 2010–11, the bus service fees charged to families only covered 81 percent of the total operating expenses.
Even so, Blake recognizes that our transportation services are expensive. Hiring and retaining excellent, caring bus drivers and purchasing and maintaining school buses are a big part of these costs. However, these costs aren’t unique to Blake. The difference in our expense structure compared to other educational institutions can mostly be attributed to the number of students transported, the distance traveled between stops and the number of campuses we serve within our bus ridership network.
Approximately 25 percent of the Blake student body utilizes bus transportation. This year Blake is transporting 390 bus riders across an area that covers about 340-square miles. Comparatively, Anoka-Hennepin Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, is responsible for transporting up to 39,000 students across 172-square miles. Blake is transporting far fewer students much farther distances than the largest school district in the state. Consequently, the distance between student stops increase, which in turn decreases the number of students who can ride on each bus route. This lower passenger density creates more routes in order to keep passenger ride lengths consistent. Inevitably, more routes equal more cost as we need to hire more drivers and procure additional equipment.
Other independent schools may have a bus service boundary similar to Blake’s, but their entire community is likely housed in a single location. That Blake’s bus riders are spread over three different campuses decreases our passenger density per route even further. Three buses are needed to cover the same area instead of one, tripling the cost to provide the same bus service to the same number of students.
To help address the challenges of a spread-out population and the impact on transportation program costs Blake created centralized shuttle stops. Centralized stops are less expensive alternatives to door-to-door bus service. Families and Blake share in the transportation responsibility by meeting at a centralized location near both a student’s residence and campus. Not only does this shorten the distance traveled on the bus, but it also enables more students to board the bus at the same convenient location.
Blake currently offers more than 20 different centralized pick up and drop locations across all grade levels and campuses. In 2010–11 more than 180 students took advantage of this option. Centralized shuttle ride times are generally shorter than door-to-door service and cost significantly less. Roundtrip shuttle rates start just under $4 per ride. Families may sign up for centralized shuttle stops at any time during the school year. Contact us today at (952) 988-3457 to find out which stop will work best for your family.
Blake is continuing to evaluate and consider new bus options spurred by your survey responses. Watch for exciting news from the transportation team in 2012–13 and beyond.
Top Five Survey Highlights
• 326 respondents
• 83.2 % of responding, bus-using parents would recommend Blake transportation.
•Top three bus requests from parents:
1. More flexible service options
2. Full service at the conclusion of after-school activities; and,
3. Shorter bus rides
• Bus drivers received the highest satisfaction scores in the survey – 89.4%
• Cost/value received the lowest - 50.4%