Wake doesn't have the longest bus rides in the state.
The latest DPI report shows that the average ride time for a Wake student this past school year was 19 minutes, unchanged from the 2006-07 school year. The state average is 24 minutes for bus riders.
The average distance of the longest 5 percent of student ride times in Wake was 9.75 miles, worse than the state average of 8 miles. But the average ride times of that 5 percent of students in Wake was 64 minutes, better than the state average of 74.43 minutes.
On the other hand, smaller districts with more compact areas do have shorter ride times. For instance, the average of the longest 5 percent of ride times in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system was only 36.17 minutes.
The earliest pickup time for a Wake student this past school year was 5:30 a.m. for a bus ride of 116 minutes. In 2006-07, the earliest pickup time in Wake was 5:07 a.m. for students to start classes at 7:19 a.m.
In 2007-08, the earliest pickup time in the state was 4:30 a.m. for Lenoir County students who started classes at 7:30 a.m.
Ride times are an issue now that diesel fuel is costing school districts more than $4 a gallon.
In the state budget that was adopted Tuesday, the General Assembly gave a $30 million increase to help cover diesel costs. The problem is that DPI estimated that a $60 million increase was needed.
When you also consider that the General Assembly also budgeted $17 million less than what DPI estimated is likely needed for ABC teacher bonuses, the budget axe could swing on school districts.
School districts are waiting to see how much state funding they'll lose to pay for the diesel and teacher bonuses.
Click here for the state's 2007-08 transportation report.
Click here for the state's 2006-07 transportation report.