Express bus schedule saves time for those in rural areas

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Shortened commutes allow children to sleep longer, get home sooner

Cassville school buses travel, on average, about 1,700 combined miles each school day, as the district includes not only the city of Cassville, but the surrounding rural areas of Eagle Rock, Shell Knob, Golden, Mano, Butterfield, Roaring River and Jenkins.

Due to the distance factor, this means many children must get up earlier to catch a bus, have a long commute to school and get home later.

The school district recognized the issue and came up with a plan to help make schedules easier and more efficient for working parents and their children.

"A few years ago, we started a new bus route," said Richard Asbill, superintendent. "We call it express. It leaves in the morning and goes out to Golden, Eagle Rock and the Mano area, picks up at the furthest point, then comes back in and picks up city [of Cassville] kids. In the afternoon, it lets off as many city kids as we have, then drops off students at the farthest points. That way, they're picking up at reasonable times and coming back here to get breakfast. "

Asbill said a big part of what makes bus commutes so long is all the stopping and starting, but with the express route, children get a little extra sleeping time, and get home quicker in the afternoon.

"You start, you stop, so a 15-minute trip may take 45-minutes because you have to stop 12 times here and there," he said. "We started [the express route] so we could pick up at the furthest point of the district, pick up some kids, and get them to school so they would not be getting on a bus and riding for an hour."

Asbill said the idea was implemented about four years ago and has been working well, and due to the distance between communities in the district, it was needed to make daily schedules and travel easier for children and parents.

"In regard to our transportation, Cassville has one of the largest transportation routes in the state," he said. "It's probably one of largest per day in miles in the state of Missouri. We travel about 1,700 miles per day. There are districts that travel more but a lot, much less. Based on that, it's important that the transportation service we offer to our parents is efficient and effective.

"We know that students at the far end of our district have to get up and get on the bus. We want it to be a good experience for them, so we want to keep our routes as short as possible, which is why we want good buses and safe buses."

The district recently received a Fleet Excellence award by the Department of Transportation for receiving 100-percent scores on inspections.

"We try to do everything we can to get kids to school and back home each day," Asbill said. "And, we know that parents work and are traveling different directions to work. So any time we can assist with that, we're going to try to do our part."

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