With the increased consolidation of rural schools and districts, many school children are being forced to spend hours on buses just to make it to school, resulting in unintended side effects including increased drop out rates and absenteeism. Additionally, financially strapped rural school districts are facing the increased costs related to the increased fuel and busing costs.

The links listed below provide a glimpse of the extant research on rural school transportation issues as well as detailing the hidden costs of school consolidation.

The Rural School and Community Trust: The U.S. School Transportation System is Massive

The Experience of Rural School Bus Rides
Craig B. Howley, Aimee A. Howley, & Steve Shamblen (2001)
This study examined the nature and experience of riding the school bus in rural as compared to suburban locales in five states (Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington). Information about the nature and experience of the bus ride was provided by 1194 elementary school principals who completed a survey instrument devised by the researchers. This study provides empirical confirmation of the comparatively adverse conditions that contribute to the concerns expressed by rural parents and communities about the length and potential dangers of rides experienced by students who attend rural elementary schools.

Rural School Busing. ERIC Digest
Aimee Howley & Craig Howley (2001)
The Digest from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools summarizes information that suggests that long bus rides are part of the hidden costs of school and district consolidation.

School Consolidation and Transportation Policy: An Empirical and Institutional Analysis (PDF)
Kieran Killeen & John Sipple (April 2000)

California School Boards Association: Rural schools get federal funds under transportation bill

Parents' Perceptions of the Rural School Bus Ride