Detroit awards private bus contracts

DETROIT - Detroit Public Schools will hire First Student Transportation Co. of Cincinnati and continue contracting with ABC Student Transportation of Detroit to provide bus services as of May 1, according to The Detroit News.

Robert Bobb, the district's emergency financial manager, said the change would improve safety and service as well as save the district approximately $50 million over five years, The News reported.

Currently, daily transportation for about 22,500 students is provided by BHT Transportation, Safeway Transportation, ABC and the district's own Department of Transportation, according to The News. The new contracts, under which the district will pay a combined $112 million, were awarded through a bidding process.

"Savings will be redistributed to our classrooms and will help reduce our deficit," Bobb said, according to The News.

Bobb said the switch will affect 289 bus drivers and 56 other transportation employees, all of whom will be offered positions with First Student or ABC if they pass a physical, drug test and criminal background check, according to The News.

First Student has agreed to buy the district's fleet of buses for $5.1 million, The News reported. The buses will be equipped with global positioning systems and on-board digital cameras, according to the report.

The Detroit News, "Detroit schools switch to private busing," Feb. 22, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "School Privatization Survey 2009," Dec. 7, 2009