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Transportation FAQ

General Transportation FAQ

Who is eligible for bus transportation in 鶹?

鶹 Public Schools provides safe transportation to and from school for enrolled students living beyond a one-mile walking distance from elementary schools and a one and one-half mile walking distance from middle and high schools (property line to property line). To find out if your child is eligible for school bus transportation, first review the bus eligibility map for your school. If you are still not sure, you may contact the Transportation Call Center or email the office.? Students who transfer from their assigned neighborhood school to another are not?eligible for transportation.

How will I know if my child has been assigned for transportation?

The week before school begins, Transportation Services uploads bus information into ParentVue for students who are eligible for bus transportation. This includes the childs bus route number, bus stop and pickup time. In ParentVue, navigate to the Student Information section, then scroll down past the Instructional Choice section.? Just below that section you will find the bus information.

When will I learn my childs bus schedule for the next school year?

Bus assignments are published in ParentVue the week before school starts.

How can I tell which bus is my childs bus route? Where do you post the route number on the bus?

Each school bus has its route number posted in a black box with white numbers (on the front passenger- side near the door). We use this number to identify the bus route.

This is my childs first year to ride on a school bus; is there anything I can do to help him/her prepare for this new experience?

We recommend that families practice walking with their child to the bus stop. Make sure that your students know the bus route numbers. You can also write the route number and stop location clearly on a note that is attached to their backpacks, OR try writing the bus route number and stop on a wristband so that they can carry the information with them easily without fear of losing it.

My child is 6 years old (or younger). What happens if I fail to meet the bus?

For a young child, not being met by a parent/guardian is often very frightening for the child. If a parent or his/her designee is not at the stop to meet the child, the bus driver will return a child?first grade or under?to the school after completing their run for that school. The child will remain on the bus until the end of the route when the driver is able to return the student to his/her school.

In addition, drivers will return any student (from any grade) to school if the child does not feel safe exiting the bus. The child will remain on the bus until the end of the route when the driver is able to return the student to his/her school.

Is the bus driver responsible for children until they get home in the afternoon?

The bus driver is responsible for children while they are actually riding on the bus. Parents or guardians are responsible for childrens safely when they are on their way to or from the bus stop and waiting at the bus stop.

What is the procedure when I need to have a different person meet my child at the bus stop?

Only persons listed on the students emergency care card are authorized to meet a child at the bus stop. If a different person needs to meet your child, please notify your school and provide his/her name and relationship. The school will forward this information to the transportation office then on to the school bus driver. Please ask persons meeting your child to have a picture ID with them when they meet the bus. The driver will not knowingly release a child without either a note from the school or by confirming that the individual has a proper ID.

What if my child needs to ride a different bus in the afternoon?

During the first three weeks of school the bus routes are balancing out and Transportation Services is monitoring how many students are riding routes, so we do not make adjustments during this period.? After that period, you may contact the Call Center to make a request. We will try to accommodate your request if there is space available on another bus that fits your needs. Again, we cannot create a new bus stop on any route; therefore, your child will be assigned to an existing stop on that bus route that is closest to your destination.

Can my child go home with another student?

At this time, Transportation Services is unable to accommodate these requests.

What if my child with disabilities needs specialized transportation?

鶹 Public Schools provides specialized transportation for students with disabilities in accordance with the childs Individualized Education Program (IEP). If your childs needs change, please contact your school to have your childs transportation needs addressed.

Occasionally, students require special transportation because of a temporary disability. Please contact your school principal to discuss your childs needs and to complete the appropriate forms and 504 Plan to accommodate your childs needs.

What should I do if my child requires a special needs lift bus?

APS has lift buses to help students with this need. If your child requires a lift bus, please share this information with your school so that this information can be noted on your childs IEP. If your child has a temporary disability and has a 504 Plan, your school will include this information as part of the plan. In both cases, the school must enter the information into the student information system, which is then transmitted to Transportation Service for routing.? This can take up to one week from when Transportation services receives the information.

Sometimes, my childs bus is late. Why does this happen and what should I do?

Every day, we have situations arise that are beyond our drivers control. These can include traffic accidents, driver absences, maintenance problems, lane closings and roadwork, weather delays, or even a late departure from school. Please be patient as the drivers make every effort to stay on schedule while being mindful of student safety.

What should I do if the bus is more than 30 minutes late on the return trip home?

We recommend that you contact your school to see if the bus was held at school or delayed. If the school staff members are unaware of any delay or departure, they contact Transportation and work with our staff to determine the cause.

Are there delays during inclement weather?

Yes, as we all know, rain or snow in our area almost always slows traffic. It is important that parents monitor weather conditions during inclement weather. Weather conditions can cause school buses to run behind schedule.

How can I find out if school is closed, delayed or has an early dismissal because of bad weather, emergencies or other conditions?

Whenever school officials decide to make any changes in school operations, including closing school, delaying school opening by two hours, or sending students home early, APS communicates these decisions through a variety of methods including:

  • APS School Talk C emails, text messages and/or phone calls
  • Toll-free Hotline recorded messages at 703-228-4277, in English or Spanish
  • Messages on the APS website home page
  • Messages on Comcast Cable Channel 70, Verizon FiOS Channel 41
  • Messages sent to all local radio and TV stations
  • Social Media C??||?

Check the Student Handbook for detailed information about Closings, Delays and Early Dismissals.

Why are students asked to arrive at the bus stop ten minutes before the bus pickup time?

All APS buses operate on a comprehensive schedule, completing two or three routes in the morning and again in the afternoon. This helps to ensure that the system operates safely, efficiently, while working to deliver students to school on time. Because of the number of students needing transportation, and to ensure effective scheduling, the overall bus schedules cannot be adjusted to accommodate an individual request.

My childs bus frequently arrives later than the scheduled pickup time. What causes the delays?

Bus routes are planned to run on a fairly set schedule. If your childs bus is running behind schedule, there could be uncontrollable factors that are affecting the pickup time. Sometimes children are not ready and waiting at earlier bus stops, which can cause the bus to run behind schedule on all future stops. This is another reason why we ask all children to be ready and waiting at their bus stops so we can minimize delays.

My child missed the bus. Can the bus come back to the bus stop?

Buses cannot return for students who missed the bus. Please be sure your child arrives at the designated bus stop at least?ten minutes ahead of schedule.

My child missed the bus at school this afternoon. Can the bus come back?

At most schools, the drivers receive a signal from school staff when they can depart after a sufficient time has been allowed for students to exit the school to board the buses. Sometimes students are held up at school for unforeseen reasons and miss their school bus. Once buses depart the school, they are not able to return to pick up any students who have missed their buses.

The bus drives right past my house. Why cant it stop at my house?

Bus stops are placed to allow the buses easy access and egress through neighborhoods while keeping safety a priority. In addition, adding bus stops causes further delays on our bus routes and extends the students ride time. In the end, this means that bus routes would have to start earlier in the morning to arrive to school on time. Similarly, in the afternoon it would mean students arrive home later.

Is it possible for all of my children to sit together on the bus?

Yes, it is sometimes possible. If the children are in line together, they have a greater chance of finding seats together or near each other.

Does the bus driver have the right to assign seats on the bus?

The bus driver may assign seats as he/she feels necessary to maintain order and safety on the bus.

Who should I speak to about problems that occurred on my childs bus?

If there is an issue on the bus, please contact your childs school. If you have a concern about a bus driver, route or general questions, please call Transportation Services at 703-228-6640. You can also email Transportation at?transportation@apsva.us.

Another child is harassing or bullying my child while they are on the bus. What should I do?

鶹 Public Schools has a policy that specifically prohibits bullying at school, during school events and field trips, and on a school bus. The bus drivers main focus must be on operating the school bus safely. As a result, the majority of the drivers attention is focused on the road and traffic conditions, so he/she may not see or hear inappropriate behavior among the students on the bus when it occurs. Students who engage in bullying or harassing behaviors are subject to disciplinary action. Please report any problems to your childs school so that appropriate steps may be taken.

Are there consequences if a student misbehaves on the bus?

Yes. Bus drivers report problems to the students school. Administrators follow the process outlined in the 鶹 Public Schools policy for all disciplinary actions. Students who are otherwise eligible for transportation may be denied transportation services by school administrators when a students conduct represents a threat to the safe operation of the school bus, to the student, or to others on the bus. Information about Student Behavior and Disciplinary Responsibilities is available in the APS Student Handbook.

The bus driver disciplined my child on the bus today. Does the driver have the right to do this?

The school bus driver (or attendant) is responsible for the safe operation of the bus. He/she should receive the same level of respect afforded to a classroom teacher, assistant or other school employee. When necessary, drivers or attendants may correct a student. In most cases, that resolves the problem. If the misconduct continues, the driver may complete a conduct report to notify the school of the event for further review and, if appropriate, disciplinary action.

What is a student conduct report?

A student conduct report is used to report a student who violates the safety rules on the bus that may cause harm to the student, to another student or to the public. This includes actions that distract the bus drivers attention from the roadway. If a student conduct report is completed for a student, the school staff members will contact the students family if they need to speak to the parent or guardian as part of the disciplinary steps taken to resolve the problem.

Can a family member or other adult board a school bus at the bus stop or at school?

The safety of the children is always our priority. It is illegal for any unauthorized individual to stop or board a school bus. Please do not attempt to board a school bus along the route or at school.

I dont like the bus driver on my childs route. Can we request a different driver?

Bus drivers and attendants are professionally trained and supervised. We do not remove staff from routes without an investigation in accordance with our personnel policies and procedures. If you have a problem, please call Transportation Services at 703-228-6640. You can also email Transportation at?transportation@apsva.us.

My son/daughter used to have a driver that we really liked, but that driver is now on a different route. Can we get the driver back?

We recognize that students often bond and develop relationships with staff, and we try to have drivers and attendants remain on the same route for extended periods of time. However, in some cases, drivers or attendants may be transferred to a different route to support our countywide transportation needs.

I think my childs bus is overcrowded. How many children can ride a full-sized school bus?

Large school buses are designed to carry 77 elementary students with three children per seat and 52 middle and high school students with two students per seat. It is important that students place their book bags and large items or musical instruments in their laps or on the floor between their legs and the barrier in front.

My child has a cell phone. Can he/she give the phone to the driver to speak to me?

School Bus Drivers and Bus Attendants are?not?permitted to use a students cell phone or to use a cell phone except in the case of emergency and the dispatch station cannot be reached.

Can students bring musical instruments or large objects with them on the bus?

Musical Instruments and large objects are permitted on the school bus as long as they can fit on the students lap or stored between the students legs and the barrier in front of the student..? The student must be able to carry the instrument or object on and off of the bus by him/herself.? Instruments or large objects cannot block the aisle. Large instruments such as drum kits, cellos and basses are too large to be transported on school buses safely. In an accident, these items can easily become a projectile and can injure a student. If you are unsure, please check with your childs school before bringing a large musical instrument or object to the bus stop.

How do I locate a lost item on a school bus?

If a driver finds an item on the bus, he/she will hold it until the following day. The student may ask the driver if his/her item was found on the bus. If it remains unclaimed, the driver will return it to the age-appropriate school.

If you contact Transportation Services, please provide us with a full description of the item. Often drivers are not able to inspect buses while they are on the road and will check for lost items at their next assignment. We recommend that personal items be stored in the childs backpack to help prevent losing items. Because electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, iPods and games are very popular, the recovery rate is very low. We recommend that students store these items in a secure place such as their backpack while traveling to and from school.

I am interested in becoming a school bus driver. How can I apply?

Please apply online at Careers@APS and submit your five-year driving history. One of our staff members will contact you to discuss becoming part of our team.

Option School Transportation FAQ

What is a hub stop?

Hub stops are centralized locationssuch as a school, library or community centerwhere students from several neighborhoods meet to catch the bus to their school and may be a longer distance from a students residence.? Not all neighborhoods will have a hub stop; rather stops are placed to be accessed from multiple neighborhoods and directions.

How are they established?

Our schools and other public facilities like libraries and community centers are our main hub locations since they tend to be places accessible from multiple neighborhoods, have room for many students to wait and available parking.? Other factors we evaluate include: housing density; ease of bus operability.? In some cases, there are no public facilities in an area, so other established bus stops are used. ?This approach strikes a balance between too many stops picking up few students and establishing stops that were too far apart.

Which schools/programs will use hub stops?

  • Elementary:??鶹 Traditional School (ATS), Campbell Elementary (beginning Fall 2022) Claremont Immersion, Key Immersion, Montessori Public School of 鶹
  • Middle:?Gunston Immersion & Montessori programs (for students who do?not?live in the Gunston boundary)
  • High:?鶹 Career Center/鶹 Tech, H-B Woodlawn, Wakefield Immersion & AP Network (for students who do?not?live in the Wakefield boundary), W-L International Baccalaureate (for students who do?not?live in the W-L boundary)

*Gunston, Wakefield and W-L students who live closer to an in-boundary stop will be assigned to it instead.

Why is APS using hub stops for option schools?

As APS continues to grow and our budget strains to meet the needs of the system, it is even more critical that we manage our resources as efficiently as possible. ?Enrollment growth alone places more demands on the bus system.??Analysis of our bus transportation system shows that the way we currently deliver service to our Countywide programs creates inefficiencies that result in wasted resources.? APS Transportation Services must make changes to how we deliver bus service to Countywide programs to ensure our bus system as a whole operates more efficiently?and can provide transportation for all eligible APS students.

What does the analysis show?

Students in Countywide programs come from all over the County, in some places with only one or two students getting on the bus at widely dispersed stops.? Some of the routes for these programs are very long (more than an hour), pick-ups very early (e.g., 7:30 for 9am start in some cases) and not arriving to school on time.???In addition to long rides and late arrivals, many of the longer Countywide routes make it impossible to use a bus for more than two schools and buses on some routes are more than half empty.? By centralizing stops for Countywide programs, we have been able to shorten our routes, pick up more students at each stop/route and use buses for more than two schools.

What do you mean use buses for more than two schools?

APS has a fleet of 200 buses.? About 60 of those are dedicated to special education transportation service, with the remainder for general education bus service.? We also must keep about 10% of the fleet available as spares should a bus have a maintenance issue or other problem that takes it out of service.? With the available fleet, APS makes about 400 trips to/from schools each morning and each afternoon.? In order to serve all those trips, buses are used multiple times.? As an example, bus route 406, with one bus and one driver, may serve three schools: Abingdon C an 7:50 am start; Wakefield an 8:20 am start; and, finally Drew C a 9:00 am start.?

Why cant APS just add more buses?

There are several reasons why this is a challenge: 1) Budget C even before the pandemic, APS was dealing with a constrained financial situation. 2) Driver shortage C even if we had the funds to purchase buses, we have a driver shortage.? This is not just an APS issue, either.? It is industry wide. 3) Lack of bus parking C this is an issue unique to 鶹.? We have run out of land to park buses.? Further, as good financial stewards, we should seek to use the buses we have as efficiently as possible.? That means, transporting as many students as possible per bus.

How will I know where the hub stops are?

Your student’s hub stop will be listed in your ParentVUE account.

Why is the stop so much farther from my home?

More stops mean more travel time as buses make their way to student locations that are far from the school and far from one another.? Hub stops are a partnership between APS and families.? Families bring their students to centralized stops so buses can pick up more students at once.?

What are the benefits to families?

Long routes mean long rides and often early pick-ups relative to the start of school.? They can also mean buses do not arrive to school on time.? For elementary students, long rides can be especially difficult with students arriving to school stressed from the long ride. ?Drivers also get stressed from dealing with traffic.? Shortening the trip with fewer stops means students arrive to school on time and ready to learn.

Have the hub stops improved the performance of the bus system?

Yes, we already have seen success.??In Fall 2019, APS implemented hub stops for MPSA and H-B Woodlawn.? In both cases, we were able to reduce the number of buses serving the school by one and increase ridership on the remaining buses.? This was particularly important for H-B Woodlawn as its new location did not have much room to manage its buses.? MPSA, which had chronically late buses the previous year, now has buses consistently arriving on time. ?Once hub stops are fully implemented for option programs we expect to see more system improvements.?

How do other schools systems transport students to option programs?

Fairfax County magnet schools pick up students from their home schools:??School districts APS used to benchmark in the Instructional Program Pathways review use similar approaches:?Peer Benchmarks

Can I change my students hub stop if another works better for our family?

Yes, if families find that a different hub stop would work better for them, because it is on the way to work or for some other reason, they can request a stop change by contacting the Transportation office by phone at 703-228-8000 (option 1) or email?schooloptions@apsva.us.