The Cayman Islands government is set to spend more than $13 million on public school bus transport through the 2021/22 and 2022/23 school years.
In all, the government is contracting with 7 companies for a grand total of $13.1 million to provide school bus transportation this school year and next. On average, the government will spend $2,000 per student-rider per year for bus transportation, or $10.86 per student-rider on each school day.
|School||Two-year cost||Student-riders||Per student, per year||Per student, per day||Enrolment||% Students on bus|
“Further to [Public Procurement Committee] approval, school bus contracts totalling $13.1 million were awarded on 1 September for the period from 30 August 2021 to 30 June 2023,” a Department of Education Services spokesperson confirmed.
The cost to provide bus service varies widely from school to school, depending in part on where the school is located.
For example, the government will spend $3.4 million on transportation to/from Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound, compared to $2.7 million for John Gray High School in George Town, although 130 fewer Clifton Hunter students ride the bus than at John Gray.
Documents included by the Ministry of Education on the government’s central procurement website indicate the number of students riding the bus on each route for each school.
Based on those numbers, the cost of bus service works out to $2,300 per student per year at Clifton Hunter, and $1,500 at John Gray.
With 185 days in the school year, a roundtrip bus ride costs $12.25 for each Clifton Hunter student, and $8.30 for each John Gray student.
The greatest cost for bus transportation is at the specialist Lighthouse School, where providing wheelchair-accessible school buses for two years is $1.3 million, or $6,100 per student per year, or $32.81 per student per day.
In terms of mainstream schools, the most expensive bus service is Edna Moyle Primary School in North Side, with a total cost of $300,000 for two years, or $4,400 per student per year, or $23.83 per student per day.
How many students ride the bus
The school buses could serve about two-thirds of students in the government schools included in the procurement documents.
Just like the cost of the bus service, the number of students riding the bus varies widely from school to school.
The lowest bus rates are for Prospect Primary (30%), George Town Primary (31%) and Red Bay Primary (32%). The highest rates are for Layman Scott – where 100% of the school’s 163 students would be served by the bus – and for East End and CIFEC, where more students are included in the bus tender documents than are enrolled at the school (104% and 109%, respectively).
Seven companies won the bids to provide bus service for the two school years. The awards range from $390,000 to G&V Transport to operate a route for Layman E. Scott High School, to $4.2 million to JerNat Heavy Equipment & Transportation to serve 5 schools on Grand Cayman.
For each route, the contractor provides their own bus (or buses) as well as drivers and wardens.
In addition to the regular morning and afternoon routes, contractors also operate ‘late buses’ and provide personnel for coaster buses (mini-buses). Our analysis of spending-per-student only includes the regular routes, not late buses or coaster buses.
|Barnes Bus Transport||John Gray, CIFEC, George Town, Red Bay||$2,117,180|
|G&V Transport||Layman Scott||$391,531|
|JerNat Heavy Equipment & Transportation||Lighthouse, Clifton Hunter, CIFEC, Joanna Clark, Theoline McCoy||$4,244,149|
|Smith's Transport||John Cumber, John Gray, CIFEC||$2,147,288|
|TML Holdings Limited T/A Lazzari Transportation||Layman Scott||$467,100|
|Union Heavy Equipment & Transportation||Lighthouse, Clifton Hunter, CIFEC, Prospect, East End, Edna Moyle||$2,424,916|
|Whittaker's Transportation||Clifton Hunter, CIFEC||$1,339,106|
There are some discrepancies in the bid documents. For example, there are no students listed as riding the bus at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay. However, the documents call for the school to be served by 3 buses.
For the purposes of our analysis, we filled in 216 students out of John Cumber’s enrolment of 505. That would be the typical recommended maximum capacity for primary school students on 3 standard-size school buses.
Cayman Brac’s primary schools are not included in the tender documents for the bus service, nor is Little Cayman Education Services.
And two schools – George Town and Joanna Clark Primary – have bus routes that operate ‘one-way-only’ in either the morning or afternoon. For this analysis we divided the number of students on the ‘one-way’ buses by two.