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A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

Posted August 27, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

Part 1 and Part 2 of this three part series proposed that childhood obesity, rising fuel costs, and a slumping housing market are creating a budgetary crisis for America's schools and compounding the impact of each individual problem. But is there a solution?

The Rise of Hypermiling

Hypermiling is a the name for a style of driving that has found many new converts as gas prices continue to climb. It involves finding different driving techniques that, when combined, can dramatically increase gas mileage. Some of these techniques include less idling, slower top speeds, and slower acceleration. Others extend to the vehicle itself, such as increasing tire pressure and - perhaps the simplest idea of all - removing non-essential items from the vehicle.

The lighter the load, the better the mileage. It seems logical enough. But that's where childhood obesity, rising fuel costs, and a slumping housing market converge to cause massive problems for school transportation budgets.

Heavier students cause school buses to carry greater loads - and school districts to spend more money for fuel. Increases at the pump make those extra pounds seem heavier while wallets grow lighter. Plus, within our sedentary culture, the likelihood that an obese child would choose to walk to school is (pardon the pun) slim. Besides, that student may live too far away to walk anyhow. The result is that more students are riding the bus, and those buses are burning more fuel to go the same distance as before.

How can bus drivers get more mileage out of their buses when the load seems to get heavier with every passing year? Does transporting heavier kids really hurt gas mileage when you're dealing with a vehicle as massive as a school bus? Most importantly, are there solutions at hand?

Park the Buses, Cut Fuel Costs, and Lose Weight

Some schools have already taken drastic measures to cut costs. There are the usual means available to administrators: cut staff and increase class size, cut classes and decrease educational breadth, and/or cut sports and increase obesity and behavioral problems. Spending cuts are supported, in general, until what is being cut is announced. But a cut in busing might not be a terrible idea for many districts.

Currently, most school districts set their own mileage parameters in terms of how far a student must live from school before he or she is eligible for bus transportation. By increasing the busing perimeter distance, more students would have to walk to school, getting at least some physical activity twice per day. Additionally, schools could also have "central bus stops" so more students would walk to their pick-up location. Then buses could have shorter routes or fewer stops, both of which would conserve fuel.

The Walking Bus

The concern that most people have with students walking to and from school is their safety. Some school districts and parent groups have already come up with a solution known as "the walking bus". The concept is that an adult walks students to school on a rotational basis. If four or five families join up, then any one adult only needs to walk with the students once per week.

The school district may also be able to provide "walking bus drivers" with some of the fuel savings, along with potentially fewer buses and lower mileage on current buses (which also means fewer repairs, oil changes, etc.). Undoubtedly, this will take commitment, parent involvement, and sacrifice from schools, parents - and most of all - kids.

Is "the walking bus" a realistic response to budgetary woes? What do you think?

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypermiling

http://ecomodder.com/forum/EM-hypermiling-driving-tips-ecodriving.php

http://www.walkingschoolbus.org/

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#1

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 9:29 AM

Is "the walking bus" a realistic response to budgetary woes? What do you think?

My inital response was "no-way". But I am rethinking it, and it might work depending on the age range. When kids are in middle school and high school, I think think it would hard to get them to walk with an adult because many of them are going through their "I'm old enough to decide for myself and you can't make me" phase. Not to mention how "embarrassing" it would be for older kids to be seen as part of a walking bus.

Elementary kids could be hard to control if they are too young and just all over the place. However, younger kids are more likely to get attached to their "walking bus driver" and listen to them - but there is always that one trouble-maker...

Honestly, I think the solution you discussed earlier in this piece in the best solution.

By increasing the busing perimeter distance, more students would have to walk to school, getting at least some physical activity twice per day. Additionally, schools could also have "central bus stops" so more students would walk to their pick-up location. Then buses could have shorter routes or fewer stops, both of which would conserve fuel.

I think that this is smarter because it forces more kids to walk - or more parents to cater to their lazy kids by driving them. As someone said in one of the earlier parts, kids that walk to school are tired when they get there so they're less wild and more likely to pay attention.

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#2
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 9:34 AM

And also more awake and alert for their first period. I don't know if that is from exercise or lack of diesel fumes.

I think the Walking School Bus can work in some areas. It really will depend on the community.

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#10
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 3:45 PM

It seems like a good idea for the young-ins. Depending on how far away it is - teenagers could pony up and show responsibility by walking with their siblings. That way, parents don't have to. I can see where this may go wrong, but the older sibling has to go to school and what a better way than being the big brother/sister and walking their younger sibling to class.

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#11
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/28/2008 12:03 AM

It would promote some civil and familial responsibility!

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#3

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 11:19 AM

It's really good idea and I do like how it's dubbed WB. By the way in my land WB is named as the Bus #11. Have you guessed why?

How about when students achieved a safe traffic-free zones[school compound or so] to convert it to RB, i.e. running bus?

I would advice to secure these walking public transportation at least a couple of adults. Students' clothing might be equipped light reflective elements.

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#4
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 11:24 AM

Depending on how late students can usually be, the RB zone might be the entire distance, anyway!

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#5
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 11:32 AM

How about JB, i.e. Jumping Bus? Or even OLJB/OFJB i.e. One-leg/foot jumping bus?

This cause I do doubt so of entire distance .

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#6
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 11:40 AM

See, with some creativity, the possibilities are near endless!

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#7
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 12:08 PM

To be truth i was quite serious to this matter. One-leg/foot jumping is a game situation when teacher might declaring "Left tire puncture! Who will overjumping others will be awarded my personal two-hands handshaking over the coming up week whenever we met! Go!".

Needless to say how children with some abundant weight are inventive to avoid any physical loads. Therefore, here is a real problem to make this project quite attractive as kind of entertainment at the first head for children and at the second one for gas savings. Competition spirit wouldn't be disregarded as stimulating factor as well as basis of capitalism.

Plus there here should be declared more optimistic motivation why they compelled get to school and back to home on their 11.. 2. Do you agree explanation:"For making you red cheeked and smiling!" sounds better than "For saving gasoline at this tough time "

I would suggest you BCG, i.e. Bus Crawled in Grass, but I'm scaring it wouldn't be accepted most of parents .

Thank you. Your blog made me smile.

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#8
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 1:27 PM

That sounds like a lot of fun, and it has a better marketing angle for parents, for sure.

Really, what you are talking about is a paradigm shift in entertainment from electronic to physical. Unfortunately, major media companies stand to lose their shirts if the nation makes that shift, so we will constantly see ads to keep us plugged in.

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#9
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/27/2008 2:12 PM

Oh, please do not flatter me. Of what I'm sure difinitely I am not a "pardigm shifter" in no way. Who could be called as one is maybe Linus Tovalds (creator of linux OS). I'm sure you've read his book "Just for fun" where he really shifted any paradigms for what we need live and work ours ars..s off.

As citizen of former empire I had been overfed at the time of my boyhood when any not too bad ideas at its start had been overloaded by bureaucratic/pure-business approach and perversed at its finish to something that made children rather vomiting instead makes them happy.

Do you agree it's work and it's really hard work for children to walk through loudy city being not trained. How could we adults explain them a need to walk when they[being very smarty] know exactly they could get a bus or dad car with ease?

Obviously it should be as a very attractive game for them. I didn't invent a bicycle here. Plus during this WB#11 travel it's pretty possible to conduct some useful lessons and perform some exercises, which developing their numerating skills and memorys. Plus it WB#11 project is a good opportunity to distract them at least for a short time from their lovely TV Game gadgets.

All what I counted could be used for justification of this project. So often indirect approach is turning up as much more effective.

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#12

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/28/2008 7:42 AM

When I was in elementary school (about a hundred years ago it feels like!) the only kids who rode a bus were the ones who lived on farms (small town rural setting). We who lived in town all walked or rode bikes to school, and only one or two lived farther than I did, so I had about a three-mile solo slog regardless of the weather. I do not remember any kids getting a parental chauffering on a routine basis; maybe if there was some special circumstance, but nobody even considered doing that otherwise. I don't recall when "driving the kids to school" became respectable behavior, but it sure seems like regettable behavior today.

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#13
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Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/28/2008 8:39 AM

I agree,

I could travel through the whole city being a small boy as well. But now it's impossible due to the safety reasons. As I noticed it's a problem over the world now.

By the way this project has some side effect when kid being more sure might leave school compound without adult's permision and control.

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#14

Re: A Perfect Storm of Fuel and Fat (Part 3)

08/28/2008 8:48 AM

Our FDA is so corrupt that they can't even decide on definitions for words like FAT FREE -- this means added sugar in the food chain today and FAT FREE means they have added sugar.

Butter has no transfat oil that cause heart disease but all the heart healthy margines contain transfats, or sudars, or animals fats, or digestible plastices.

They use wood fibers for Cellouse as a food additive. The digestible plastice in processed individually wrapped American Cheese is the same thing as the wrapper of the slices.

Few schools have full kitchens anymore and nothing is made from scratch at school anymore. Just pour and heat. Defrost and heat. heat strainght from the freezer.

Well what can we expect when the businesses supplying the schools food is the LOWEST BIDDER!!!!!!

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