SEATTLE – A growing number of school districts in the United States are outsourcing their transportation services, which could provide opportunities for charter bus operators to diversify.
Seattle-based Onvia’s 2017 “10 Hotspots in Government Contracting” research found that between 2015 and 2016, there was a 10 percent increase in school bus service bids and requests for proposal (RFPs) issued by public districts.
“As K-12 school districts experience budget pressures, they have begun outsourcing some services to the private sector instead of hiring private employees,” Onvia said.
“In fact, a recent study from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found that in Michigan, between 2001 and 2015, the percentage of school districts outsourcing food, custodial or transportation services jumped from 31 percent to 71 percent.”
“While privatized educational services have their share of critics, school funding difficulties will continue and there is a more business-friendly administration at the federal level,”
The report uses current, future and historical government transaction data from Onvia’s B2G Intelligence System to show the most significant rates of growth in published solicitations.
New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts were the top states for student transportation bids and RFPs, with increases of 29 percent, 17 percent and 10 percent, respectively, between 2015 and 2016.
New Jersey in particular has been a leader in using private bus transportation contracts to become more efficient at the school district level.
Rounding out the top 10 states were California (7 percent), Illinois (6 percent), Pennsylvania (3 percent), and Texas, Maryland, Michigan and Connecticut, all at 2 percent.
“While privatized educational services have their share of critics, school funding difficulties will continue and there is a more business-friendly administration at the federal level,” Onvia said in the report. “In this environment, there is a strong potential for further growth in private bus services in the coming years.”
The company said the growth in bids and RFPs for student transportation services might lead to growth in other contracting areas. More contracts for bus services, for example, might lead to more contracts for security cameras on school buses, or more opportunities for businesses to provide school bus parts and maintenance.