Student Transportation

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who should I contact with transportation questions or concerns?

Your child's school is the best place to call first for information about school bus stops and transportation bus discipline concerns. All safety related concerns should be reported directly to Transportation office.

2. Who is eligible for school bus transportation?

Most people are surprised to learn that there are no requirements for a school district to provide school bus transportation to and from school. However, Newport News, like many other school districts, provides school bus transportation as a valuable service to our students and parents. All students who live more than four-tenths (0.4) of a mile from their assigned school are eligible for school bus transportation. Students living four-tenths (0.4) of a mile or less from their school may be in a "no school bus zone" and not eligible for transportation services.
Students that are administrative transfers are not eligible for transportation unless the administrative transfer request is approved with transportation.

3. How will I know bus stop times and where my child will catch the bus?

Bus stop information is on the school division website at "Bus Stops and Zone Finder" is located in the Family Resources menu. Bus stop information will also be available on ParentVUE and StudentVUE.

4. How is the location of a bus stop determined?

The student's address, which is in the student information data base (Synergy), and School Board bus stop policy determine the location of the bus stop. They are centrally located to benefit the most students and may not be in the same location from year to year. Bus stops are evaluated for safety on an annual basis and as needed.

5. What are the walking distances to a school bus stop?

In general, a student may walk up to four-tenths (0.4) of a mile to and from a school bus stop. Typically, school buses do not travel on privately owned streets, dead end streets, or those with cul-de-sacs not large enough for the bus to safely turn around. These type of situations may increase the distance a student must walk. Magnet school students, activity students, summer school students, and athletic students may walk distances greater than four-tenths (0.4) of a mile to and from a school bus stop.

6. Can a child be picked up or dropped off at an alternate address?

Due to COVID , and capacity issues we are extremely limited in our ability to allow students to ride to a bus stop they are not assigned to.  We ask that parents find another means of transportation to get their student to their destination.  While students may have different AM and PM bus stops, they will not be permitted to have multiple AM or PM bus stops. (Example: A child may not be dropped off at one address on Monday and Friday and a different address on the remaining days.)

7. How do I make arrangements for my child to go to a child care location?

Your school can provide a list of in-zone frequently used childcare facilities. On the school division website at "Bus Stops and Zone Finder" is located in the Family Resources menu. There you will find guidelines, instructions, and a request form. Requests for child care stops must be resubmitted each school year and for summer school. Requests must be submitted prior to August 20, to be active for the start of the school year.

8. My family moved during the school year, who do I call with the new transportation information?

Contact your school. The school needs to keep student records up to date. The new student records are automatically forwarded to the transportation department nightly. The school has a list of active school bus stops for your use.

9. Where do I find the routes, departure times, etc. for activity and athletic buses?

Athletic and activity buses do not have set routes due to the fact that the students who ride the bus can change daily. Your school is the best source to find out the scheduled times for all Athletic and activity field trips.

10. Why can't the bus stop in front of my house?

The overwhelming consideration in determining the location of the bus stop is the safety of our students. Bus stops are placed in locations where they will provide a safe and convenient location for students while helping us route our buses in the most efficient manner possible. Bus drivers cannot make unauthorized bus stops. Please don't ask them to stop at a location other than an authorized bus stop.

11. I can't see my child's bus stop from my house. How can I get the bus stop moved closer?

Bus stops are placed at centralized locations in the community that can be safely accessed by a significant number of students to minimize the time and mileage of the bus run. Stop locations give consideration to other students who, over time, will move into or depart the neighborhood. As long as the bus stop is within four-tenths (0.4) of a mile from your home it is within School Board Policy. If you have concerns about your child's safety you are encouraged to accompany your child to the bus stop or arrange for a neighborhood buddy to walk with your child.

12. Why does my bus come so early?

It is a challenge trying to coordinate the schedules and activities for more than 300 school buses and routes and over 24,000 students. Bus routes are computerized to run as efficient as possible. Student loads and the distances to the schools are only two of the factors that go into determining the routes and start times. The schools start time is another factor. One major consideration in determining routes and trip times is traffic. Roads in Newport News are becoming more congested with 70,000 vehicles per day on some streets. Also, 60% of our schools have cross zone students who must be transported to and from school from opposite ends of the city. All of these factors can result in the need for earlier pick up times.

13. Why are buses sometimes late?

School bus drivers have the same reasons as other motorists for being late. Traffic delays, weather conditions, accidents, or driver illness are a few of the reasons. School buses may have mechanical problems that cause delays. Also, buses may be operational but a critical safety device such as red lights may be malfunctioning, making it unsafe to pick up and drop off children. Finally, when a bus starts late all follow-on runs performed by that bus will most likely be late.

14. Will the bus leave the bus stop without my child if she/he is not waiting at the bus stop location?

Yes! The student must be visibly waiting at his/her school bus stop. Students sitting in vehicles or standing inside houses may not be seen by the driver.

15. Will the bus driver honk the horn to let me know the bus is at the bus stop?

No. If the bus driver arrives early at a bus stop, the driver will park at the stop until the departure time and then pull away. The driver will not use the horn to attract attention.

16. What if the bus does not arrive to pick up my child?

Each child should arrive at the school bus stop 10 minutes before the designated pick-up time. Please allow at least 10 minutes after the bus is due at the bus stop for variations in traffic or other delays. If the bus does not arrive within 10 minutes of the designated time, the parent may call the Pupil Transportation Department at (757) 881-5052 for further information. Please provide the following information: (1) the name of the school the child attends, (2) the child's name, and (3) the location of the bus stop.

17. Why does my child have different drivers in the morning and afternoon?

Many students attend a school that is in a different area of the city from where they live. Transportation operates three bus lots, one at each end of the city and one centrally located. The schools operate on a tiered time system. For the most efficient use of resources, routes tend to start closest to the lot, go across town, and then return to the area near the lot. For example, a bus that parks in the north end of the city picks up students near the lot and takes them to Heritage HS in the south end of the city. Then the bus picks up students in the south end and takes them to Dutrow ES in the north end. In the afternoon, the same driver may pick up students at Woodside HS in the north end, drop them off in the south end, and then pick up students at Washington MS to return them to their homes in the north end.

18. Who is responsible for my child's safety at the bus stop?

Parents are responsible for bus stop safety. Parents are encouraged to monitor their child at the bus stop. Make sure that you and your child have a backup plan should the bus not arrive at the bus stop. Remind your child to stand on the sidewalk or the edge of the street by the curb, avoid standing on private property, be watchful of traffic, and never talk to anyone he or she does not know. Students and parents are asked to report any suspicious activity, or anything else that makes them feel uncomfortable, to school administrators and the police. Parents are strongly encouraged to walk with their children to and from the bus stop.

19. Will my child be safe on the school bus?

Yes! School buses are the safest form of transportation in the United States. Your child is much safer in a school bus than in your own car. The school bus is designed for safety. We maintain high safety standards and expectations from our students and drivers. Our drivers maintain excellent driving records in order to serve our students. We are constantly striving to improve safety each and every day. We transport a very large number of passengers on a daily basis and accidents will sometimes occur on school buses just as on other kinds of vehicles.

20. Why are school bus seats spaced so close together?

The basic purpose in spacing school bus seats so closely is to contain the child in a cushioned compartment with only a minimum amount of space between energy-absorbing surfaces. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the safest and most practical arrangement for school bus seating would be a "compartmentalized" concept where seats are placed close together.

21. Why aren't seat belts required on school buses?

Seat belts are not required on school buses because research by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and others determine that compartmentalization was a better solution. Compartmentalization is more manageable. Compartmentalization works equally well for 1, 2, or 3 students per seat. Compartmentalization works whether students have fully developed abdominal areas or not. Compartmentalization, once it has done its energy-absorbing job, leaves the student free to escape the bus.

22. What is a school bus "Danger Zone?"

The Danger Zone is a 10-foot wide area around a school bus where children are in the most danger of being hit and injured by the school bus. Children must stay 10-feet away from the bus to be out of the Danger Zone. Children should never go behind the bus. If a student must cross the street they should take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing the street so the driver can see them. When crossing in front of the bus, the student should always remain alert for cars (someone running the red lights). Never approach the bus when it is preparing to stop. Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, and the bus drivers give you the OK, before approaching the school bus. Never chase a bus that has started moving away from the stop. The driver will not be able to stop for you.

23. Do I need to stop for a school bus when its red lights are flashing in a parking lot or elsewhere?

Yes. Please remember that school buses stop frequently to pick up and drop off children. Use caution. You must always stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing. It is the law and carries a $250 civil fine. All school buses are equipped with stop-arm cameras to record violations.

24. What can be done to improve school bus safety?

Education and knowledge will keep our children safe. The children will be safer by knowing and following the bus safety rules. Parents knowledgeable in school bus safety will insist that their children cooperate with the bus driver to ensure a safe ride. The informed public will be aware and comply with the law by not passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing. Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to accompany their children to and from the bus stop. This is very important, safety is greatly enhanced when students are accompanied to and from the bus stop.

25. What is the three (3) card system?

Several years ago, parents came to us with a concern that it was unsafe to release pre-school children at a bus stop without a parent at the bus stop. We addressed the parent concerns with the three (3) card system. Each pre-school, PEEP and kindergarten student is tagged, and each parent is provided three (3) matching cards with student information. The parent should keep a card and give the other cards to caretakers authorized to receive the pre-school, PEEP or kindergarten student. When the bus arrives at the stop, the card must be given to the driver to match with the child's card. The card will be returned and the child will be released to the card holder. We have added a space on the back of the card for one name to be placed there. This will allow one designated person to receive that student if that designated person has forgotten their yellow card. That designated parent must produce some form of government issued ID (Driver's License / Military ID, etc.) in order to receive that student. No yellow card or a form of approved ID from the designated person, the student will be returned to school. It is required that a responsible person be at the bus stop with the card in hand to receive the student.

26. Can I ride the school bus with my child?

In general, and for liability reasons, the only passengers allowed on a school bus are Newport News school students, bus drivers, bus attendants, and certain other individuals in the performance of school division business. Parents are allowed to ride the bus on certain occasions and only with written permission from the school administrator.

27. How long may a child be required to ride on a bus?

There are no time limits set by School Board Policy. We attempt to keep bus runs less than 60 minutes. However, there are occasions when this is not practical based on the distances, number of stops, and number of students required to be transported to and from a school. Because of these factors, some bus runs can be in excess of 70 minutes.

28. I see buses all the time with only a few children on them. What are they doing?

We have many programs in Newport News Public Schools that require students to be transported a considerable distance. When transporting students to these special programs, the length of time of the run sometimes makes it impossible to fully utilize the capacity of the school bus. These "light loads" include magnet, alternative, and vocational programs with limited enrollment.

29. What happens if my child breaks the bus rules?

The disciplinary consequences on the school bus for inappropriate behavior depend on the infraction. It is important that every student follow the rules for riding a school bus. It is essential that a student not compromise the safety of the school bus, the other passengers, or the school bus driver. A school bus is treated the same way as a classroom with respect to disciplinary infractions. The consequences may range from a driver/student conference, driver/parent conference, to change of seating. In cases where the infraction is significant, bus drivers will write disciplinary referrals and refer the student to the school principal for disciplinary actions. Please refer to your student's Rights and Responsibility Handbook.

30. My child left a coat on the bus. How does he or she get it back?

Drivers check their buses after every bus run. Items left on the bus may be claimed at the bus lot at the end of the day, and/or returned to the child the next day by the driver. You can help by labeling all of your child's school belongings with the child's name and school. The school division assumes no liability for items left on the school bus.

31. Is my child's bus equipped with a video camera and GPS?

Each school bus is equipped with a camera digital system. The cameras can monitor the inside and outside of the bus, in daylight or darkness, and includes audio. Each bus is also equipped with a GPS system allowing real time tracking. A feature of the GPS system is the app "Here Comes the Bus." This app provides parents and students with an alert when the bus is nearing the stop. Further information is available on the school division website at: "Bus Stops and Zone Finder" is located in the Family Resources menu. The Here Comes the Bus app is available in Android and IOS app stores for free download. Other uses of technology on the bus are in the developmental and piloting stages.

32. Why is my special needs child's bus schedule changing again?

Special needs transportation services are subject to frequent transportation changes due to the number of students entering and exiting special needs programs throughout the school year. In many cases, the individual student needs are changed by the IEP committee which then requires transportation changes. Since the over 900 special needs customers share in the use of 82 school buses, a change for one student may impact a route change for many other students. When these changes are made, bus drivers notify parents with the new pick up and drop off times. This is a dynamic process, as we seek to make changes as quickly as possible, and at the same time maintain continuity of transportation service for all students involved.

33. I'm at home, but the driver will not let my special needs child off the bus until I come to the bus door. Can you tell the driver to just open the door and let my child off?

Our teams of special needs drivers take pride in the transportation of special needs students. Parents can delineate on their student's Transportation Confidential Card that a parent must come to the bus before the student will be allowed off the bus. The student will be brought back to school if a responsible person is not at the bus stop to receive the student.

34. Who is responsible for keeping my child's wheelchair in good repair?

Parents are responsible for wheelchair repair.

35. Will the bus driver transport my child if the wheelchair does not meet standards?

No. Bus drivers are instructed not to transport any wheelchair which does not meet standards. It is best if you have a wheelchair that has been designed and tested for use as a seat in motor vehicles often referred to as a WC-19 wheelchair. View additional information on WC-19 wheelchairs.

36. How do I contact the Student Transportation Department?

You may call (757) 881-5052 between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for assistance.