1) What should I do if the bus doesn't show up?
Pick up and drop off times will not vary to any great extent on a normal basis after the first two weeks of school. Circumstances beyond our control could make the bus late occasionally. Vehicle "break downs", impassable roads, emergencies, or drivers becoming ill are just a few reasons that could make the bus late. We will always make sure a bus will be at your stop. If the wait is longer than fifteen minutes please contact transportation at 651-653-2734 for district buses, and 651-407-9080 for First Student Transit buses.
2) What's allowed on a bus?
Questions arise from time to time about what students may bring with them on the school bus. The Transportation Department tries to accommodate students' needs whenever possible. The Department's rule of thumb is that students may bring items such as musical instruments that they can hold on their laps or between their legs during the bus ride. Objects like balls may be carried on the bus only if they are kept in a student's backpack and are not brought out during the ride to or from school.
Some objects are never allowed on the route buses.
These objects include:
- guns including play guns
- knives or other sharp objects
- gasoline engines or cans
- animals, insects or fish
- matches, lighters
- glass items, aerosol products
- laser pens
- skis, ski poles, hockey sticks
- skateboards, scooters
- golf clubs, lacrosse sticks, baseball bats
- any items of dangerous or objectionable nature determined by the Transportation Department.
Our goal is for students to have a safe and respectful ride to and from school. We appreciate your cooperation.
3) What determines a bus stop?
Our goal is to consistently identify bus stops in neighborhoods on the consideration of safety, efficiency, least cost and shortest over-all ride times. Bus stops are located at corners or intersections whenever possible and are usually central to where all of the students are coming from. This also allows the driver a wide area to scan for traffic and students. Some house stops are made on very busy roads or mid-way on long streets. We generally do not send buses into cul de sacs or dead end roads because of lack of safe access or the ability of the bus to turn around. Click here to see Bus Stop Procedures and Routing Criteria
4) How will I know which bus my child takes next year?
You will receive a postcard in the weeks prior to school starting showing the bus stop location, bus numbers, and the times for the school your child attends. If you do not receive a postcard prior to one week before the first day of school, please call the transportation office at 651-407-7538.
5) If I am registering or moving in August or September, just before school starts, do I need to call the transportation office?
YES! The transportation department begins downloading student information from each of the schools during the first week of August. Anyone registering or moving beginning with the first week of August must call the transportation office to make arrangements for transportation services before the new school year (unless you already contacted your child's school prior to Aug. 1).
6) The bus goes right by my house. Why can't it stop here?
School bus stops are placed in central locations to shorten route length and times. Transportation services makes every effort to see that these stops are safe and have appropriate walking routes to them. In many cases a bus will stop at a front door if there is no appropriate stop within a reasonable distance. By law, school buses must also have at least one-three hundred feet between stops (determined by a road's speed limit). The higher frequency of stops made by the bus increases the dangers for an accident because of impatient motorists and increasing the number of stops, makes the student ride time longer.
7) Who has the authority to change my bus stop or route?
Answer: The school district's transportation department is the only authority who can make changes to bus routes and stops. School bus drivers do not have the authority to make changes to routes or student pickup/drop off locations. If you believe your bus stop is unsafe and/or does not fit the bus stop criteria set forth by the district, please fill out a "Bus Stop Change Request Form
" after reading through the Bus Stop Procedures and Routing Criteria
section and send to the transportation office for review.
8) Why do some children have to cross the street to board the bus?
We are not able to route all buses so that children can board the bus from the door side. We recommend that children wait on the side of the street that they reside. The bus will stop traffic in all directions to accommodate students that need to cross the street to board the bus. You should instruct your student to wait for the driver's signal before crossing in front of the bus.
9) We live on a cul de sac. Will the bus come down our street?
Except to transport special education students, buses generally are not routed down cul de sacs because of the danger to small children and property while the bus is turning around or backing up in the small area.
10) What determines walking distances to a school?
The walking area is determined by measuring the shortest distance from the student's residence (end of driveway), by reasonably safe walkway, to the property of the school the student attends.
The walking zone distances established by the School Board are:
*All kindergarten students qualify for transportation during times when no older students are transported to/from school (midday).
11) Why can I not see the bus stop from my house?
The school district provides transportation for over 7,000 students to and from school each day. We are not able to position bus stops so that all parents or daycare providers are able to see the stop from their home. It is the responsibility of the parent, guardian, or daycare provider to ensure that their child arrives safely at the bus stop.
12) What is the maximum length of time for a bus route?
We strive to establish route times so that no student will ride the bus for more than one hour one way. Unfortunately we can not always guarantee this will happen all the time.
13) My child goes to school in one district but my daycare is in another. Can my child ride to and from daycare to school?
Transportation across district lines is not permitted. Route timing, distances, and bus capacities make it impossible to accommodate this type of request. The child's parent would be responsible for transportation arrangements.
14) My child is not eligible for transportation but attends a daycare in an area that is eligible for transportation. Is my child eligible to ride to and from school from the daycare?
The student would be allowed to ride to and from daycare on a "space available" basis. Approval may be rescinded in the event the bus becomes overcrowded. Please fill out a "Day Care Provider Form"
and return to the Transportation Dept.
15) I think my child is eligible for transportation but I'm told the distance is not far enough? How do I resolve this?
All home locations within the city have had distance measurements calculated by our routing software. Computer calculations using a digitized map, aerial measurements, or actual measurement with an on board distance meter have been performed on all address points within the district. Vehicle odometers are not an accurate way to judge precise distances. Please contact the transportation office should you feel a distance is inaccurate.
16) My child needs to occasionally ride home to a different location. Is this possible?
Unfortunately, due to some buses being at full capacity, we are unable to fulfill these requests. If, however, you have a student needing to be dropped off at a different location; you should first contact the transportation office for availability (at least one school day prior). If there is room on the bus, you will need to send with your child a written note signed and dated by you (the parent/guardian) with information on where we should bring your child. Please include a daytime phone number on the note in case we would need to contact you. Finally, the note should be signed by a school administrator and given to the bus driver on the day they are riding.
17) Why do some buses look empty?
Transportation Services makes every effort to fully maximize bus capacities. On occasion, buses may not be fully utilized due to the nature of the transportation. Special Education, ESL, and some kindergarten schedules are not fully utilized due to distances, timing and program needs. When space is available on a bus, students are not seated in the last three rows.
18) What happens if my child looses something on the bus?
Drivers inspect the interior of the bus after each route. Drivers are instructed to keep all found articles of unknown origin on board the bus at least one day. Articles may be claimed directly from the driver or you may contact the district bus garage or the contractors office. Unclaimed articles are kept in our "lost and found" for a few weeks.
19) Are seat belts required on school buses?
Seat belts on school buses are not required equipment. School buses utilize the "compartmentalization" concept to insure student safety. Since the mid-70s the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that this approach to student safety is the most practical for school buses. Compartmentalization is an arrangement whereby seats are placed close together to absorb the energy of a child's body thrown against it. Additional padding, higher seat backs, frame construction, and anchoring requirements make compartmentalization the accepted choice of and the industry standard.
Efforts are currently underway to revisit the seat belt issue on a national scale. Testing is currently being done to determine what the next generation of "child restraints" for school buses might be. The outcome of this testing will be reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before determining if viable options exist and are necessary for changes.
Transportation Services does utilize lap belts and other restraint systems in certain circumstances. Special Education buses currently provide lap belts for all students. Pre-school students utilize a child-restraint system especially designed for younger children weighing less than 40 pounds.
20) I have a complaint about a bus driver. Who do I talk to about this?
Please call Transportation at 651-407-7538 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily. If it is a contractor's bus, please call First Student directly at 651-407-9080 between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
21) My child is a Special Education student. Who do I contact to arrange transportation?
Please call the Special Services Department at 651-407-7553. They will contact the transportation office to arrange for special needs transportation.
22) Do you need a special license to drive a school bus?
Yes, all drivers are required to maintain in good standing a class B commercial drivers license (CDL) with a School Bus and Passenger endorsements. Refer to our section in Safety about Bus Driver training.
23) Do students practice emergency evacuations from the school bus?
Yes, by law it is required on an annual basis that students grades K-8 be instructed in the proper way to evacuate a school bus in an emergency situation. Drills are performed on each route in the early fall of each school year. Drivers are trained in the proper use of emergency exits and procedures.
24) How do I know which activity bus my child should take?
Busing for after school activities will be provided on a limited basis for students in grades 6-12. An activity bus schedule is posted at each secondary school, or by clicking here. Students identify which bus they ride by locating the bus route which travels closest to there home. Bus stop locations for activity routes may be different than the bus stop locations for to and from school routes and may possibly be one to two miles from the home.