Using uniquely detailed individual-level data on transportation provided to all New York City public school students, we examine the relationship between transportation use and school quality for elementary school students (K–5). We find that students who attend choice schools are more likely to use transportation (either school bus or free public transportation) and to attend better schools than their zoned schools. Among students who attend choice schools, those who use transportation attend significantly better schools than their peers attending nearby choice schools, with bus riders experiencing the largest gains in school quality. Further, transportation appears to play a particularly important role for black and Hispanic bus riders, who are 30 to 40 percentage points more likely to attend significantly better schools than their same-race peers who attend choice schools but do not use transportation. These results point to the importance of pupil transportation in allowing urban children to access good schools.
This report was updated on February 11, 2019, to correct the placement of the former figure 8, now appendix figure A.2, and to correct its title. Accordingly, the former figures 9 through 12 are now figures 8 through 11, and the former appendix figures A.2 through A.4 are now appendix figures A.3 through A.5. Also, the content from page 11 onward has reflowed, and the table of contents has been updated to reflect that change.