School buses are a veritable stealth transit system of their own, criss-crossing the most rural parts of the country on rigid schedules. They haul 24 million kids a day in 480,000 buses-- and yearly ridership barely exceeds all US "adult" transit. But high fuel prices are causing school districts to trim their bus services, which means that the burden of transporting kids to school will fall on their parents. Ironically, saving money by eliminating school buses will result in higher gas consumption, and it will shift higher costs to families. This is the Energy Trap at its worst--high fuel prices shift even higher expenses onto struggling families while doing nothing to reduce US oil dependence.

Typical of the school districts who are trimming routes is Salisbury, North Carolina. Buses there date as far back as the 1980's, and get 6 miles per gallon. The district budgeted $2.50 per gallon for diesel but prices are already over $3.20. At the same time the state has been cutting subsidies for transportation to the schools. These expenses are further complicated by the district's commitment to bussing special needs students at a higher cost. While this article deals with local issues, districts across the country are trimming their services. A recent survey by School Transportation News found that 22 percent of the districts who answered their poll were planning cuts.

We'd like to gather stories of how school bus cuts have affected your family's commute and budgets. If you have a story, please contact us. Or put your story on The Energy Trap Map.