Why Paying Private Bus Companies is Stupid

What I don’t understand is why organizations like school districts think it’s more cost effective to subcontract out stuff like school buses to a for profit company. If some percentage of every dollar spent is going to profit, it’s not going to running school buses, so it can’t possibly be more cost effective. Maybe in the short term since it would likely cost something to get back into running their own school buses, they might get the same bang for their buck using a private company, but long term, it’s not very likely. If a school district isn’t going to spend part of their school bus dollars profiting someone, then all of their dollar spent would be spent on the school busing, and that would be more cost effective.

For some reason, school districts don’t think like this. They’ll happily fork over money to private companies thinking it’s more cost effective because the companies do the thing, whatever it is. But if the school district hired people who knew what they were doing (the same people who work for the private company and get paid crap) to run their bus system they could apply 100 percent of their school bus dollars to running the school buses. No percentage would go to some person who just makes profit. This would be more cost effective.

If school districts thought through this kind of process they wouldn’t end up in situations like the one here where they can’t run school buses on a given morning because there is a shortage of drivers. There is a shortage of drivers because the pay is complete shit for the work done. It’s barely above minimum wage. These drivers are completely responsible for ferrying around other people’s children, the most precious thing to most people, yet they are paid the same a fast food or grocery worker. It’s shit pay. If the school district were using 100 percent of their bus dollars on busing, they could pay the workers more and actually get some workers, eliminating the shortage.

In my town all summer long there were little stands around town with a school bus trying to hire people. I looked up the company doing the hiring. The wages were utter shit. No wonder they can’t find people.

The other big issue with driving school buses is that the hours are wacko. The driver has to come work in the morning, and then be off, and then come back in the afternoon. This isn’t the best work for someone who needs enough to pay living expenses. Add in that the wages suck, and this makes it even more difficult to find someone to take the job.

There are lots of things like this, where public dollars are given to private companies who then line their pockets with that money and spend only a part of it on the public service the money is supposed to help. I have a lot to say about this, but I don’t feel like saying it this morning. It’s raining and I want to make lunch and do some yoga, so I’m going to do that instead.

2 thoughts on “Why Paying Private Bus Companies is Stupid

  1. When a political leader privatizes a formerly government service, he very much increases the potential for shoddy overpriced private services, thus providing opportunities for kickbacks, mostly in the form of campaign contributions (or as David Graeber put it, “bribes”.) It’s not about better service or lower cost to the government agency, which never in fact result; it’s about the deals he can offer his friends, which would be much harder to set up & much less lucrative under civil service rules.

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