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Home > Pupil Transportation > Statistics Homepage >School Year 2002-2003

Pupil Transportation in Maine





A Group of Maine's 2003 School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners

No matter how we describe the issues and challenges in Pupil Transportation, the bottom line is:


State of Maine

Department of Education

School Bus Transportation Statistics

School Year 2002-2003

These pupil transportation statistics are being made available by the Department of Education.   They describe cost and safety variables for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003 and include a comparison of fiscal years 2002 and 2003 with the most current national statistics.


The State of Maine's school bus transportation program is committed to providing safe and effective transportation for all school children in Maine and on the continuous improvement of operating efficiencies to assure that pupil transportation services are delivered at cost effective levels.   The Department of Education works with other state agencies and associations (including the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Human Services and the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation) to provide education to fleet supervisors, school bus drivers, mechanics, students, parents and the public at large about safe practices and efficient procedures for pupil transportation.   These efforts are focused on reducing the risk of school bus related crashes occurring while continuously improving the efficiency with which transportation services are provided.


Nation-wide highway transportation statistics clearly show that the safest form of highway transportation available in the United States is pupil transportation in the yellow school buses.   Crashes that result in fatalities to occupants of school buses are rare events.   Nationally, approximately 460,000 school buses travel an estimated 4.3 billion miles to transport 23 million children to and from schools and school related activities each year.   Roughly 50% of our national student population rides the school bus every day.   Over the past 10 years we have lost 8 of these children each year in fatal school transportation related crashes.


What about the other 50% that do not ride the yellow school bus each day?   These same statistics tell us that annually, 600 lose their lives traveling to and from school by means other than via school bus transportation.   Crash investigations and simulations conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that many of the 800+ fatalities could possibly have been avoided if the children involved had been riding in a school bus.   Approximately 49% of all children attending primary and secondary school in the United States travel to and from school in a highway vehicle that is not a school bus and another 1% ride bicycles, walk or travel by some other means.   In Maine, approximately 20% of the children who attend public school do not travel to and from school in a school bus.


National Highway Statistics show that between 1991 and 2000, only 0.3 percent of all traffic related fatalities have been classified as school bus related.   The following list provides a brief summary of the national statistics relating to school bus crashes.


•  Each year, approximately 800 school-age children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during the normal school travel hours (weekday mornings and afternoons during school months).

•  Roughly 2% of the 800 children killed are school bus related while 74% occur in private passenger vehicles and 22% are the result of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.


While these statistics represent the national picture, in Maine we have not had a fatal school bus crash in over 10 years.   We have had many close calls and some serious injuries and we have lost numerous school children in vehicle crashes not involving a school bus.   Only 20% of the public school children in Maine do not ride the yellow school bus.


The Department is pleased to provide the following fiscal year 2002 statewide pupil transportation statistics:


•  Report ED545 Transportation Safety and Training – This document reports the statewide summary of driver employment, driver training and school bus crashes.


•  Report ED546 School Bus Expenditures – this report contains data regarding district level school bus inventory, pupil transportation operating expenditures, miles traveled, students transported, cost per mile and cost per student transported.


Comparison:   FY01 to FY02 Public School Pupil Transportation Statistics – STATE OF MAINE

Program Measurement Factor



National Average (2001)

Expenditures for Transportation Operations (*2003 excludes lease purchases)



$11.4 billion+

Capital Expenditures for School Bus Purchases (*2003 includes Lease purchases)



$722.8 million+

Miles Traveled



4.05 billion+

Average Cost per Mile




Average Number of Children Transported Daily (Public)



23.0 million+

Average Operating Cost per Student Transported




Publicly Owned School Buses in Operation (includes Unorganized Territories)



460,000               Public and Private

Privately Owned School Buses in Operation



Transportation costs for transporting students to and from school remained fairly stable between FY2002 to FY2003 while the number of students transported and the number of miles traveled increased slightly.   A change in statute resulted in bus lease-purchase expense being excluded from total operating expense.   Lease-purchase expense is now part of the capital expense of replacing school buses.   For purposes of comparison to FY2002, adjusting the 2003 total operating cost to eliminate the effect of this change would result in a 2003 cost per mile of $2.26 and a cost per student of $439.76.   The increase in miles traveled reflects a decrease in density of student residences along bus routes, more students riding the buses and, an increased amount of travel by school buses as vans and other non-school bus vehicles are eliminated from the fleet.    Finally, the number of districts offering transportation for preschool programs also increased over previous years.



•  Average Number of Children Transported Daily :   the average of all pupils transported daily by SAUs to public and private schools each day.

•  Expenditures for Transportation Operations : the total annual operating expenditures less revenues and cost of extracurricular transportation.   Beginning in 2003, this line no longer includes the cost to lease-purchase school buses.

•  Capital Expenditures for School Bus Purchases :   includes 100% local and State/Local shared costs for school bus purchases.   Beginning in 2003, this line item includes costs for lease to purchase commitments.