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Students throughout New York City rely on a fleet of thousands of school buses to arrive safely at school in the morning, and at home each evening.

But when school buses are delayed, break down, or become stuck in traffic, a host of logistical and safety concerns result.

Students miss important class time, and may be delayed for extensive periods while the source of the delay is resolved.

Daily School Bus Delays

In September 2019, school buses that were delayed ran an average of 28 minutes late – some were delayed considerably longer.

While this number is a slight decrease from June 2018, it is still the same as last September when the average delay was 28 minutes as well.

Students experienced 10,553 school bus related delays in September 2019.

Note: Information provided by the Department of Education (DOE) as self-reported by bus companies.

Download the Data

Sept 2019 Delays

631 Delays Daily

28 Minute Delays

Average Daily Delays Per Month
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

Delay Times

In September 2019, on average, when school buses were delayed, they were delayed for 28 minutes.

That means that though students experience delays for longer or shorter periods of time, a student can expect to be delayed an average of 28 minutes every time there is a school bus delay.

This is a decrease from June 2019, where the average delay was 28.5 minutes. In September 2018, the average delay time was 28.1 minutes.

Average Delay Time (minutes) Per Month
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

School Bus Delay Reasons

According to school bus operators, heavy traffic is the most common reason for delays, and has accounted for 74% of delays in the past 4 years. On average, traffic delays cause students to arrive 25.2 minutes later than expected.

While accidents are, fortunately, relatively rare, they cause the longest delays. Between September 2015 and January 2020, they resulted in an average of 38.8 minutes.

Reasons for Delays

Traffic: 74% of Delays

Accidents: 38.8 Minute Delays

Most Frequent Delay Reasons

Reasons for delays include:

  • Heavy Traffic (74%)
  • Other (4%)
  • Mechanical Problem (4%)
  • Won’t Start (4%)
  • Flat Tire (4%)
  • Weather Conditions (8%)
  • Late Return from Field Trip (1%)
  • Problematic Route (0.3%)
  • Accident (1%)
  • Delayed by School (0.1%)
Reason for School Bus Delays
Sept 2015-Jan 2020

How Long Certain Delays Take
Average Length of Delay Per Reason
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

Students are delayed for different amounts of time because of a variety of reported delay reasons.

Reported accidents, though infrequent, create the longest reported delays. Between September 2015 and January 2020, accidents created on average, reported delays of 38.8 minutes a day.

The most frequent reason for delays, heavy traffic, caused average delays of 25.2 minutes a day over the past 4 years.

Reasons for Delays Over Time

Bus Breakdown / Preventable Delays
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

The number of delays caused by traffic each day (represented by the data points) varies seasonally.

The data suggests delays caused by heavy traffic peak at the beginning of the school year. Every September, there is a spike in delays, which increase every year.

The graph above focuses on bus delays due to breakdowns, which include mechanical problems, flat tires and won’t start.

These preventable delays have steadily increased between September 2015 and September 2018 but have slightly decreased after February 2019.

Traffic Delays
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

Where School Buses Are Delayed

Students face different delay times depending on the school’s location.

When delays occurred, those in Queens faced an average of 28 minutes over the past three years.

Students in Staten Island were only delayed an average of 19.4 minutes over the same period.

Borough Delays

Queens: 29 Minutes a Day

Delay Times by Borough

Average Minutes of Delay Per Borough
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

Average Minutes of Delay Per Borough

  • Queens: 28.1 mins
  • Brooklyn: 27.5 mins
  • Manhattan: 30 mins
  • Bronx: 23.2 mins
  • Staten Island: 19.4 mins
School Bus Delay Times Per School

Average, Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

When School Buses Are Delayed

At least 70% of reported delays occur in the morning, as students are being brought to school. While special education buses account for the bulk of delays, they also account for the majority of daily school bus routes.

The “Other” category constitutes:

  • General Ed Field Trip
  • Project Read AM Run
  • Project Read Field Trip
  • Project Read PM Run
  • Special Ed Field Trip
When Are School Buses Delayed
Sept 2015 – Jan 2020

Technical Appendix

Data used is sourced from the Open Data Portal “Bus Breakdown and Delays” dataset.

The data is self-reported by bus companies, bus drivers, and NYC OPT (Office for Pupil Transportation).

The data was visualized and cleaned to a minor degree. Rows with missing or impossible data points were removed.

All fits shown are regression fits, under the assumption of negligible seasonality in the underlying data as suggested by low auto-correlation.

School days are approximated as days in which there are more than 250 delays (as was found to be a good approximation through observation).

Delay times are approximated from the given string columns with the minimum possible value of ranges used in most cases.

The data analysis can be found at this githubpage.

 For feedback, comments, and questions please email

Created by the NYC Council Data Team.