The school bus may not come next school year

In the new school year the bus may not make a stop for your kid as high fuel prices force cost-cutting nationwide

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Families are not the only ones who are examining their driving habits as fuel prices continue to climb. The same applies for municipal governments, police departments and school districts. They are all also tightening their belts, as budgets get stretched by high fuel costs.

In certain suburban areas, school officials are asking children to walk farther to their bus stops so districts can squeeze a few more miles per gallon. In other areas it may be a case that children will be asked to walk to school altogether or to cycle. I am sure that there will be more districts and counties to follow suit soon, as it would not appear that the prices will be going down in the near future. It seems that they will rise still further. The $200 a barrel oil by the end of the decade, e.g. 2010, does not seem all that far off anymore; a notion when mentioned by Dr. Stephen Leep in his book “The Coming Economic Collapse” was laughed off as impossible fantasy.

The scaling back of bus routes could be an inconvenience to parents, but provided there is a safe sidewalk to use, a little extra walk will surely not hurt most students. Some certainly can do with the exercise of walking or cycling to school.

Reacting to the new bus route by dropping kids off in the family SUV would not be the best solution, from an environmental perspective; reducing unnecessary school bus trips is. Older diesel school buses can pump out twice the asthma-inducing pollution of a tractor trailer.

The greenest way to get your kid to school would be walking him or her to school, if they need escorting, cycling with your child to school, or have them use the walking or cycling school bus.

Diesel, which runs most school buses, has been at or near all-time high prices per gallon, and currently sits at an average of about $4.76 a gallon. Gasoline prices also hit a new record recently, of nearly $4.09 a gallon, on average. That has some police departments eliminating patrols or even putting their beat cops in golf carts to save on fuel.

In the UK some police departments have begun using – though not because of the fuel costs but rather in order to reduce the environmental footprint – electric patrol scooters. Those can cruise at 40mph for quite a considerable distance and have a top speed of, so I understand, about 70mph. In that mode, however, the battery does not last all that long.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008