Date of Award

Summer 7-1-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration


Schwartz, Amy E.


Absenteeism, Congestion, Pupil Transportation, School Bus, School Finance

Subject Categories

Education Policy | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Transportation


In this dissertation, I examine the link between pupil transportation policy and three outcomes.

The first paper exploits idiosyncratic variation in the percentage of weekdays that are instructional school days in a month and variation in pupil transportation spending within districts over time. I build a rich, monthly, longitudinal data set for congestion, school days, and transportation policy for 51 cities from 2013 to 2019 and find congestion is significantly higher on school days and pupil transportation alleviates congestion caused by school children's travel.

The second paper uses a difference-in-differences design to answer whether desegregation court order release delivered the expected reductions in bus spending. Additionally, I use an event study to determine the lag of any effect of court order release on bus spending. Contrary to expectation, I find modest, but significant, increases in per-pupil transportation spending following court order release. This paper offers limited evidence to refute critic's claims that high spending on desegregation busing crowded out instructional spending.

The third paper exploits institutional criteria for pupil transportation eligibility and idiosyncratic variation in whether a school offers the bus to identify the effect of pupil transportation on engagement using a difference-in-differences design and a regression discontinuity design. I use New York City administrative data on over one million elementary schoolchildren and data on their absenteeism, meal participation, as well as parent survey data. Previewing results, I find that student and parent engagement decrease with distance to school, but that pupil transportation mitigates this link.


Open Access