Do school buses make school choice work?

Samantha Trajkovski, Jeffrey Zabel, Amy Ellen Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


While school choice has been well studied, there is little existing research exploring the role of transportation, in general, and school buses, in particular, to school choice decisions. We examine the effect of school buses on school choice decisions using data on kindergarten students and their eligibility for transportation assistance in New York City public schools in 2017. Using both conditional logit school choice models and regression discontinuity designs, we provide both descriptive and credibly causal evidence on the impact of school proximity, bus eligibility, and their interaction on school choice decisions. Our results indicate that proximity and buses both matter. Specifically, while distance significantly deters choice, school bus eligibility increases the likelihood of choosing a school by 1.4–4 percentage points (or 12-30 percent). Compared to a high-quality school, we find that bus eligibility has twice as large an impact on reducing the negative distance effect in the 0.5 to 1 mile range from school (27 versus 12 percent). These results will be useful for policy makers looking to leverage school transportation policy to improve school choice decisions, and ultimately student outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103607
JournalRegional Science and Urban Economics
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • School choice
  • School transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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