, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 159–175 | Cite as

Costs of school transportation: quantifying the fiscal impacts of encouraging walking and bicycling for school travel

  • Noreen C. McDonaldEmail author
  • Ruth L. Steiner
  • W. Mathew Palmer
  • Allison N. Bullock
  • Virginia P. Sisiopiku
  • Benjamin F. Lytle


National governments have provided subsidies for investments in increasing the safety and attractiveness of walking and biking to school. Evaluations of Safe Routes to School initiatives have found that they have been effective at changing behavior and reducing injuries. However, there has been little attention to the impacts of these programs on pupil transportation costs. This analysis assesses the potential economic benefits of Safe Routes to School programs in the US context by estimating the annual costs of using motorized transport for short trips to schools, examining real-world examples of the costs savings of SRTS programs, and evaluating land use impacts on school transportation costs using a simulation analysis of school bus routes. We find that there is potential for school districts and families to reduce transport expenditures through public sector investments in walking and biking infrastructure near schools. We also find that land use context matters and the most cost-effective investments would benefit schools where large numbers of children live within walking distance.


School transport Safe routes to school Costs School bus Hazard busing 



This project was funded by the Active Living Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center (STRIDE) with funding from US Department of Transportation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noreen C. McDonald
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ruth L. Steiner
    • 2
  • W. Mathew Palmer
    • 1
  • Allison N. Bullock
    • 3
  • Virginia P. Sisiopiku
    • 4
  • Benjamin F. Lytle
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of City and Regional PlanningUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Urban and Regional PlanningUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Alta Planning + DesignDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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