Atlanta Public Schools has 279 bus drivers – why do they need 400+ buses?


Over the last month I have posed what I believed to be a couple of simple questions to the administration.

  1. Why are there over 400 buses in the APS fleet and only 279 bus drivers?
  2. Since the number of buses used at any one time is limited to the number of bus drivers, what is the operational purpose and reason for the extra 100+ buses?
  3. We understand that a number of spare buses are needed to accommodate for breakdowns, repairs, maintenance, etc. How many buses are required for back-up purposes? 120+?

So far there are no answers from the administration. So I will pose it again more publicly with the following background and facts to help the administration formulate an answer.

  • Per the administration, only employees that have passed a specific test are allowed to drive the buses and there is not a cadre of other employees besides bus drivers that are certified to drive them (i.e.–team coaches do not drive buses).
  • The buses to bus drivers ratio has remained consistent for at least two years – per the budget, the number of bus drivers has not changed and per the APS website, the bus fleet has remained at 400+.
  • At the beginning of last year, there were a number of busing problems and APS indicated that 50 buses placed back in service to solve the problems – it was interesting to note that they had the extra 50 buses to “place in service”, but the number of bus drivers did not change.
  • Per an open records request, the actual number of individual bus routes remained approximately the same this year as last year.
  • Per an APS administration official, internally they count the number of bus routes based on the number of schools a driver will go to during the morning (i.e. – elementary school and then either a middle school or both). The number of bus routes using this method of counting is approximately the same as last year.
  • During the starting bell discussions in January, the administration stated that if the bell schedules were not changed, there would be a need to buy an additional 50 buses at a cost of $5 million. Bell schedules were changed and the starting time for elementary school drop-offs were changed and the request for the additional buses was dropped.

As I review the record, the numbers of logical inconsistencies in the administrations positions to date are significant. But let’s ignore that for the moment.

So back to the original questions – why does APS need 400+ buses if it does not have the bus drivers to drive them?

At a cost of $100k per bus, on its face, it appears that APS has invested millions in buses that are not needed.

Oh, and remember that the resources needed to reduce class sizes this year were simply not available.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

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