School District Looking To Purchase 75 School Buses And Bring Busing In-House

FIRST REPORT: In a bold move, the Board of Education is looking to purchase 75 school buses and bring the majority of busing back in-house, TLS has learned. The move, the outcome of a Transportation Department meeting, comes “in light of many recent issues with a variety of bus companies”, a BOE official says. “The BOE has come to the decision that bringing the transportation back in-house is the best course of action”, he said.

The Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Isaac Zlatkin, says a full cost analyses of the system is currently being conducted and that it could result in more than 75 buses being purchased.

A board member says that the move would also save money for the district.

“The savings is also projected to be enormous, since many contracts have been in place for over 20 years with yearly increases”, the board officials said.

The member says that funding for the buses is in the works and that the BOE is “hopeful that they will be ready and on the road for this September.” TLS.

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  1. Districts have found significant savings by opening and closing schools in tiers, most preferably, four tiers. For example, Toms River high schools start at 7:15, intermediary schools at 7:50, half the elementary schools at 8:40 and the other half at 9:20. Each route takes about 45 minutes so each bus seat is occupied four times every morning and every afternoon. Fewer buses are necessary when setting as near to equal amount of routes in each of the four tiers as possible.

    In an average size district, companies figure that it costs $60,000 for them to run a bus. They look toward charging around $75,000 making about $15,000 in profit. When busing companies bid by the route, they charge about $30,000 each, as they can run buses twice each morning and afternoon, combining routes in different towns consecutively.

    District that tier their school opening times so that the buses stay in the same geographic area will see significant reductions in cost. In a four-tiered system, each route costs about $18,750. Bidding in a four tiered system is in package rather than by route, so that every bid is for all four tiers covering four routes. Bus companies save on fuel by remaining in the same district. As competition is fierce among the companies in many of today’s market, savings are passed on to the district

    The ideal transportation system has capacity of running its own buses, preferable on a 50-50 split between transportation in-house and outsourced. The district in-house busing sets a benchmark for contractor competitive bidding. If the unions get too greedy, then more contracts go out to the private companies. If the companies get too greedy, then more routes are done in-house.

    26,000 students are transported to school in Lakewood. 1,747 are walkers. Eight contractors provide 464 routes in the most complicated student transportation system in the nation. 5,406 non-remote students on hazardous routes are transported while 3,915 receive courtesy busing.

    The number of students receiving non-hazardous courtesy busing was higher in the past, but the district asked the town to install more stop-lights, crossing guards, sidewalks and other safety measures. Finding it less expensive to continue busing the children, the municipality designated several of the routes as hazardous, so that the number of student receiving non-hazardous courtesy busing decreased.

    Lakewood has 260 routes at the 9:00 opening arrival. That leaves only 244 other opening times with which to package the routes. If some of the schools can move to an 8:00 start time, or some to 9:30 and others to 8:30, then the remaining 9:00 arrivals can be packed with other routes. Bus companies combining the package of two routes together with a third route from out-of-district will see economies of scale. Dismissal times in Lakewood are more staggered, many schools dismissing at 4:00 but others at 5:00 pm, at 5:45, at 7:00 and at 8:45. If the 260 schools cannot adjust their 9:00 am opening times, the need for fewer buses in the afternoon will not reduce the number of number of buses hired since they will still be needed in the morning. Both dismissal and opening times have to be tiered and balanced between the tiers to see savings.

    This of course would require a community-wide effort. Presently, there is little political will to change school start times as parents will have to reschedule their days.

  2. #1. The fire budget was cut because the fire tax was more then the projected cost which resulted in a large surplus. If you are a fireman please let us know what the fire department has gone without since the budget cut and why wasn’t the needed equipment purchased last year with the surplus in funds . I’m sure you can’t name anything and if so please explain why the fire commitioners let you go without when they had the money.

  3. Way to go. For the first time in 12 years the BOE is using there heads. The district can save upwards of 8 million dollars per year or more.
    Great move men.
    Keep up the good work

  4. It’s about time someone cares about the district. If the money saved on busing can be put back into all the schools in Lakewood I am all for it

  5. Do you really think this will save money?
    There is more waste in government programs than private businneses. The government workers have nothing to lose when they make their decisions. They have no reason to work harder to save the government money wheras a businnes man the more money he saves the more money in his pocket.
    Private bus companies work hard to save on gas have in house mechanics tires oil changes …. Is anybody in the boe going to work on every aspect of running a bus company
    This is the a bad idea
    Let all the bus companies bid and we are sure to get the best price for bussing

  6. I applaud this decision. for once the company (hence now the town) will be responsible for the reckless drivers from the bus company.
    Till now complaints went nowhere, if its the town, im sure they will enforce the driving.

  7. Great idea, what about all the drivers who lost out on pensions and all the other benefits when they were let go around 1989, sorry but this is a real kick in the theeth to those folks.

  8. Are we talking about the 2012-2013 school year? Is the Transportation Department looking to hire more administrative staff and raise current salaries? Will they purchase the buses from the local vendors they will be putting out of business? Will they hire the local drivers that will lose their livelihoods as a result of this move? Will they make sure to place cameras on the buses as per the rules they dictated to the private companies? I have many more questions..

  9. private companies bidding always save money over gov’t.
    Look at the public school system, how much more it costs per student then private.
    Has any gov’t agency ever save money? There is no accountability.

  10. For starters, 70% of the districts nationwide don’t outsource their busing.

    And for reason…It saves money!!

    Now as we all know Gus is coming from Toms River where 80% of the buses are in-house. I therefore trust him when it comes to safety decisions and savings.

    Thank you to the transportation committee members for the bold move. I for one will start sending my children on the bus next year 🙂

  11. I’m with you on the tiered bus savings to the community.

    I understand parents of little kids may have a hard time adjusting their schedule, however girls high schools should be able to adjust their curriculum without too much repercussion.

    Thanks for having the tax payers in mind!

  12. WE got rid of the in house busing years ago to save large amounts of money. I guess we were lied to then or are we being lied to now.
    How will it save money? Private bus companies pay minimum wages with NO benefits, the in house bus drivers will get better wages and a full benefit package. bus drivers will not be the only cost. You need supervisors, dispatchers, mechanics, inspectors, insurance, parking lots …etc, etc, etc.

  13. Lakewood had its own buses many years ago and fired all the transportation employees and sold the buses. See what happens when you out source….another lesson learned the costly way.

  14. I’m not sure that the bus companies are bidding fairly….if you look at the bids, a lot of times there is only one bus company bidding. It’s almost as if they are bid rigging….hmmmm.

  15. I see where the private companies may get hurt by this decision, however what makes you think the district won’t equip the buses with the right technology and won’t rehire the bus drivers? I could even see where the rules such as background checking will be enforced. BTW many districts have bus drivers who are not unionized.

    “A Lang” clearly explained the benefits of having a 50-50 transportation split between in-house and outsourced. It keeps everyone in check!
    In fact only 10% of the districts nationwide outsource all their busing…

    With Gus at the helm, we’ve seen only good decisions so far. I trust him too with getting the maintenance aspects right.

  16. I thought it was a bad idea to privatize the bussing. Once you lay off all those drivers and sell your assets (buses) you are stuck with what comes down the road. Since the time it was privatized, bus companies involved with Lakewood and surrounding towns were found to be bid rigging, about 10-15 years ago. The companies know they have you too, because you sold your assets and can’t bus, so they can jack up the rates, because well, what are you going to do, go out and buy millions of dollars of school busses? I think its a move in the right direction. There has always been problems with the private companies, and when I made complaints years ago, I think they fell on deaf ears. I’m against waste, by the government or otherwise, because thats my money too, but there are things that should be provided by the government because they can control it better, especially if the voters are in an uproar. Once you get rid of your assets, you have no control, and the bidders know it, those contracts expire eventually, and you only have to be a dollar less to win the lucrative bid. If the town does something crazy like privatize dpw or ems, the first couple of years will seem like a deal, but wait for that contract to end and see how it just goes up and up.

  17. Aaron Lang is right on the money. However, most of the savings will come from switching to tiered, consolidated busing, not from in-house vs. outsourcing.

    With the explosive growth of Lakewood nonpublic student population, it’s a fact we can no longer ignore. All the silly arguments against tiered, school-consolidated transportation (e.g., i don’t want my son on the same bus with my next door neighbor’s son), disappear when the enormous savings are calculated. The yearly cost increases are simply insupportable. We need to take our heads out of the sand and face reality.

  18. I am very familiar with this decision and for all of you who are yelling benefits and pentions, You are Wrong!! The drivers will be part time employees and thus no benefits or pensions

  19. A very BIG mistake. I hope ultimatly the voter has the oversight.

    Besides- the way things work in Lakewood- They will have them- then not have them- hire then fire-then hire the drivers again.

    One day the kids will be picked up- then one day not.

    One more thing being allowed to be wrecked by in town politics.

    I hope and pray this does not come to be.

  20. On a side note, is that an empty sushi plate on the table, and is that a buffett table behind them?
    Is this the regular, business as usual, I.e. we the tax payer pick up the tab for their meals every time they decide they need a meeting? I’d like to know what they spend on their meals for these meetings. Just curious!vis this a daily,vweekly, monthly thing?

  21. Let the township bid against the private bus companies & if they come in lower, let those runs be in house. If after 1 year, we see that they really spent more money than they bid, then the township will not be able to bid anymore!

  22. Big government blows money. Not a smart move!
    Unions, pensions, supervisors,lawsuits. It might look good. But its a move that looks good on the cameras. In the last 50 years, every service the government does in house ,costs double


  24. This is the most pathetic thing I have heard in years!!

    You BOE Members don’t realize we don’t care about saving money now,first fix up the public school system that should be your Number 1 issue then go ahead and save us money. This show us clearly that all you guys care about is the non public kids.

  25. atleast this board is looking at ways to save money and increase services. Lets be honest from 2000 to 2009 our taxes went up every year, the schools need repairs which were never done and people made tons of money. Legal fees were running amock. I just saw the township committee approved the budget stating $150K less for legal fee’s. Is this a JOKE

  26. This is the stupidest idea I ever heard. Districts outsource services because it is proven the private sector can do it better and cheaper. Gus always looks to blame the contractors for increased costs…..HE’S to blame. Stagger the bell times….DUH? Rather than look at a logical solution lets go out and spend 6 mil on buses, lease a facility, hire drivers, with benefits (btw, contractors give benefits) etc. ADDRESS THE REAL PROBLEMS!!! Put the money and effort in the classroom!!!! Bussing isn’t the problem……WAKE UP BOE!!!!!!!!!!

  27. i cant believe all the stupid posts i am seeing here. this move is be able to leverage down the bus companies what are doing bid rigging

    im sure they have it figures out to the penny the long term result of bringing it in house , and now the bus companies are going to have to come way down in price .

    everyone one wins. except the price riggers of course.

  28. Way to go! This is the first BOE in over 10 years that is working hard and smart for the district. They are applying business principles to the District budget, and going after the big expense issues, with a goal of reducing expense and maintain or improve service.

    Go BOE! You continue to make us proud.

    Arthur Lang! — You have great insight. Keep up the good work and please continue to share your thoughts and ideas.

    Isaac Zlatkin! — You are the man. Keep up the good work. You and this BOE can and will make a positive difference.

  29. That was a dumb idea when they took in-house busses out years ago, it worked fine ,had good drivers.. Ran on good schedules. My only question to this is, if there is money for busses, is there money for a new teacher contract and retro pay. These teachers have been working without a contract for two years and deserve some help to make a decent living. All other towns get a pay raise. To say it will raise taxes is a joke because teachers pay taxes also. Lets take care of our staff.

  30. Whats funny about the whole system is that the Transportation Bidding procedure CLEARLY states that contractors are not authorized to TEIR routes. This practice has been going on for years in Lakewood. The Board simply does not have enough help in the transportation department to teir routes. So, they leave it up to the contractors. They really need to review the laws and ask themselves some serious questions.

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