It’s nearly time to say goodbye to pupils who will be moving on to the next stage of their education, and hello to new pupils – and new school bus routes. MTM Data Analyst Danny Neilson explains how to plan your school transport network to make sure it’s useful to current families, as well as those who will join your school in future.

 

Bussing provisions have proven themselves to be an integral part of independent schools’ offerings over the past decade.
Not only do they provide access and flexibility to families who either live further afield or are unable to make the daily commute due to restrictions on their time, but liveried transport is also a great way to advertise your school on a daily basis.

MTM Bus Route Planning is one of the most requested services we offer. All we need are the postcodes of your current pupils’ homes and a map of your current school bus routes and we are able to analyse the effectiveness of your current routes and suggest new routes that will provide an improved service to families already using your school, and help to attract new families in future. With recruitment, retention and awareness-raising all on board, it makes sense for schools to take bus route planning extremely seriously – and the majority now do.

With recruitment, retention and awareness-raising all on board, it makes sense for schools to take bus route planning extremely seriously – and the majority now do

Catchment analysis
MTM Bus Route Planning uses our in-house geospatial catchment analysis tool to map your school’s current available market and its market share, and overlay the current bus routes. This allows you to see if current routes are serving your markets as effectively as they could be; at the same time, it allows us to use our knowledge of the current and future demographic situation to make suggestions as to how to amend the routes to make them more effective, and perhaps suggest new routes that will serve untapped locations. We like to stress the use of the word ‘suggestions’ – it’s easy for our researchers to draw routes running into the largest markets based purely on our data, but your team’s knowledge of current families and the local area are also essential ingredients in driving any decision to amend a route or introduce a new one.

 

Grown organically

It’s interesting that many school bus routes have grown organically, or by request, or to accommodate pupils who left the school years ago! Some routes are convoluted, adding

journey time for limited gain. Our analysis factors in the locations of current families to ensure the maximum value for them, while giving exposure where our UK-wide data tells us there are potential markets.

 

Creative bussing
With MTM’s help, schools can be far more creative with their bussing provision.
If a route is worth operating but there is only small demand, for example, there is no harm in running a liveried MPV. Running costs are lower, but these still bring the pupils to school and advertise your brand while on the road. Local circular pick-ups have become popular. These cater for pupils arriving at a train station, drop-off point or other popular location at various times during rush-hour.
Express routes are suited to schools that are close to a motorway. Covering greater distances at high speed, buses bring pupils to the school who would otherwise be considered outside the catchment.
Similarly, fast routes with no stops for the section of the journey closest to school can be very useful for bringing popular residential areas to within an acceptable daily journey time (usually an hour each way for pupils of senior school age).
The purpose of effective bussing is to make the transportation of pupils as easy and convenient as possible for their families – get school bus routes right and they will bring a steady stream of new pupils to your gates.

To find out more about MTM Bus Route Planning, please visit our website, or get in touch with the friendly MTM team.