Frequently Asked Questions
- Transportation Eligibility
- Bus Stop Information
- Schedule Information
- Safety Information
- Extracurricular Transportation
- Other Information
How do I know if my child is eligible to ride the bus?
Students who live more than one mile from school are eligible for school bus transportation based on state law. Some students who live closer than the state-defined distances may still be eligible if the walk path to school is deemed hazardous by the district. If you’re not sure if your address is eligible for transportation, please visit the bus routes page (E-Link) and enter your address into our online tool.
Can my child ride the bus if they live in the walk zone?
Unfortunately, with the large number of students who live in the walk zone and would like to ride the bus we are unable to provide this transportation service without prior approval. You may inquire about an existing bus stop on a route by filling out a Transportation Inquiry Form.
My student is ineligible to ride a bus, is there a way they can have transportation?
Students who are ineligible for transportation can inquire about seat availability using the Transportation Request Form.
How do I find out what bus my child will ride?
This information is available in E-Link. To find your student’s bus, enter your student’s grade and address (except for specialized programs, including EAP/AAP and Special Needs, these are routed individually and parents will be notified of their stop information). If you have any questions on your EAP/AAP or Special Needs bus route and you have not been notified of your stop information please call 425-408-7900 and we will be happy to assist you. If a driver is using a spare bus they will place the regular bus number in the window.
How are bus stops determined?
Safety is the overriding factor in choosing routes and bus stops. Bus stops will be placed on public roadways that are of sufficient construction, size, and width to accommodate a school bus. Further considerations include:
- percent of grade,
- number of lanes (at least two),
- whether the roadway is paved,
- the speed of traffic,
- whether there is adequate sight distance to locate a bus stop safely,
- and the avoidance of travel on private roads and/or driveways.
Bus routes are designed with buses traveling on main arterials with students picked up and dropped off at central locations. Visibility – Bus drivers need to have at least 500 feet of visible roadway to the bus stop. If there is not ample visibility (e.g. curve or hill) a “school bus stop ahead sign” is put in place before the stop in accordance with WAC 392-145-030. Bus drivers activate their school bus warning lights 300-100 feet before arriving at the bus stop, where the posted speed limit is 35 mph and under, and 500-300 feet before arriving at the bus stop where the posted speed limit is 35 mph and over.
Why are bus stops located at corners?
Bus stops are located at corners for several reasons:
- Bus stops may be located at corners or intersections whenever possible. Street signs at corner stops are much more visible to drivers than house numbers.
- Students are generally taught to cross at corners rather than in the middle of the street.
- Traffic controls, such as stoplights or signs, are located at corners. These tend to slow down motorists at corners, making them more cautious as they approach intersections. The motoring public generally expects school buses to stop at corners rather than individual houses. Impatient motorists are also less likely to pass buses at corners than along a street. Cars passing school buses create the greatest risk to students who are getting on or off the bus.
- Bus drivers activate their warning lights and stop arm when picking up and dropping off students. Corner stops allow ample time for the driver to activate the yellow warning lights before getting to the stop.
- Ride times for students are shorter if buses are kept on the main arterial and avoid traveling down side streets. Exceptions are in place for certain students whose needs are addressed through an IEP (individual education plan) or 504 plan are eligible for “curbside” service. This service is typically restricted to situations where a less restrictive environment is not possible or where medical issues require this type of service.
What other factors are considered in bus stops?
- School bus stops are located for optimal visibility to motorists.
- Students who live in a subdivision will walk out to the main entrance of their neighborhood.
- The safety of all school bus stops are evaluated with the understanding that the parent/guardian (or other adult) will provide age-appropriate supervision for their student(s) at the bus stop.
Transportation exceptions for students who reside within 1 mile:
- The students who need to cross a roadway with three or more lanes at an intersection that is not controlled by a crossing guard, stop sign or traffic light.
- Absence of appropriate walking path.
- Alternative routes, such as parks or community trails are not provided.
How are bus stops distances determined?
Distance from home to bus stop:
Students may, depending on conditions, be required to walk up to 1 mile on public roadway to access a stop.
Distance to closest stop:
Bus stops will be no closer than 300-600 feet apart with the exception of hazards, e.g. speeds over 40 MPH, ditches, railroads.
Criteria considered requirements for adding a stop or making a house stop.
- It is not possible to provide bus stops that are within sight of all student's homes or daycares unless house stops are made for all students. We encourage parents to be present at bus stops to promote proper pedestrian and bus stop behavior.
- Bus stops are not added solely due to the bus routed past the home. The higher frequency of stops made by the bus creates impatient motorists, increasing the risk of the public driving around the bus and creating a safety concern for students who walk to the bus stop.
- Bus stops are not modified to accommodate a single student stop. Other students may be assigned to the stop, but ride infrequently. Stops are made at corners for efficiency and to accommodate other students who may move into the neighborhood and other students using the stop due to an inadequate walk path.
What can I do if I have a concern about my student's bus stop?
Families that would like us to re-evaluate their stop location can start the review process by completing a Bus Stop Change Request Form.
How are bus ride times determined?
The bus ride is determined by both the distance from school and the number of stops made. It would take a considerable amount of time to make thirty stops for 50-60 students. For this reason, every attempt is made to minimize the number of bus stops and to keep them at corners. Minimizing stops also reduces fuel costs and wear and tear on the buses. Efficient routing also enables each bus to get to the next school on time.
Why does my student's bus arrive late in the afternoon?
Many factors contribute to an afternoon drop off time. Traffic, construction, time released from loading zones, and ridership all come in to play when delivering students home in the afternoon.
What time do buses leave schools in the afternoon?
Buses leave high schools and middle schools five minutes after the bell. Buses leave elementary schools when they are dismissed by the loading zone teacher or monitor.
When am I suppose to stop when school bus lights are flashing?
When to stop when school bus lights are flashing or stop bar is out:
- 2-lane roadway: both directions stop
- 3+ lanes: stop if traveling same direction as bus
- turning lane: stop if traveling same direction as bus
- median: stop if traveling the same direction as bus
Why do some students have to cross the road to board their bus?
We are not able to route buses so that all children can board the bus on the door side. Students are to wait on the side of the street where they reside. The driver will stop traffic in all directions to accommodate students who need to cross the street to board the bus. Students cross only by the direction of the bus driver (looking, listening, and waiting for the driver’s motions). Students will not cross the roadway if there are three lanes or more (including turn lanes, medians and planters). Buses will then service both sides of the road.
What if my child is participating in the before-school elementary band and orchestra program?
Band and orchestra students should ride their neighborhood middle school bus. Band programs are typically held at the middle school, and orchestra will be either at the middle school or at an elementary school. The buses will also drop orchestra students at their elementary orchestra site, if it's not held at the middle school. Music teachers will meet the students and direct them to their class areas. After class, students will be returned to their individual elementary schools by shuttle bus. Parents should select 6 in the grade field in E-Link to find the correct bus to a middle school
Please note that students can attend any elementary band or orchestra site outside of their service area IF they are willing to provide transportation to and from their selected site.
Is there transportation for after-school activities?
Many of our middle schools have a late activity bus; however, students must be eligible to ride the bus to school in order to ride the late activity bus after school. Students misbehaving may be denied this service. Activity routes cover a much larger distance, please have your student go to their school office to view the routes and obtain a pass with the correct bus stop location.
What if my child has an in-district waiver?
The district is unable to provide transportation for students on an in-district waiver. It is the parent’s responsibility to provide transportation. You may inquire about an existing bus stop on a route by filling out a Transportation Inquiry Form.
What happens if my student accidentally gets on the wrong bus?
At the start of the school year, a handful of students inevitably get on the wrong bus. It is rare that students get on the wrong bus after the first few days of school. Transportation Services anticipates this situation and has a protocol:.
- The bus driver contacts dispatch at Transportation Services as soon as they learn a student has boarded their bus in error. Dispatch contacts the student’s school.
- The school contacts the parents and informs them of the situation.
- The student stays on the bus and the bus driver takes them back to their school at the end of their run. Transportation staff and the school stay in communication as the bus makes its way back to the Center.
- It is the parent’s responsibility to pick up the child from the school.
What are the responsibilities of parents?
- The parents/guardians or daycare provider of a child being transported on a school bus are responsible for the safety and conduct of their child prior to the arrival of the school bus at the child’s designated bus stop.
- Parents are responsible for their children until they board the bus. Due to the large number of students who ride Northshore buses, we are unable to make bus stop changes to relieve parents of that responsibility.
- We must balance the need to be efficient and safe; we appreciate the partnership of parents in making sure that students are at their assigned stop safely five minutes prior to the scheduled bus arrival time.
- For the safety of our students, drivers are not authorized to drop off special-needs, pre-school, or kindergarten children without a parent/guardian or authorized adult to receive them at their bus stop. Students who are not met will be returned to their school. If the parent or guardian believes the student is capable of attending to his/her own needs, and may be dropped off without a responsible adult present, the Transportation Department is then required to receive that information in writing from the parent of guardian prior to dropping off the student.
- District waivers: parents will be responsible for student transportation to and from school.
What happens to lost and found items?
Drivers check the bus for lost items after every run. Occasionally, items are kept aboard the bus for return to the owner that afternoon or the next school day. If an item is not claimed, it is turned in to the school office. Items are not kept at the Transportation Department. If you have a question about lost and found items, please check with your driver or school office.
How do I get a Bus Pass for my student?
Load counts on buses can not be assessed until all eligible riders have had the opportunity to ride their bus. Due to programs, such as elementary band, starting in October it is necessary to wait to evaluate available seats. Student enrollment has also increased which puts school buses at or close to capacity. Therefore, Bus Passes will not be approved for the first month and a half of school until we are able to properly assess available seats. After mid-October please contact your school to inquire about available daily bus passes. If your school indicates there is room for your student supply the school office with a parent-signed note.
It must include the following information:
- Name of school
- Date pass is to be effective
- Bus number
- First and last name of the student
- Address of where the student is disembarking the bus (established stop)
- Indicate duration (today only, or a specific period of dates)Parent signature
- Open dated passes are not allowed.
The pass will be issued by the office and must be handed to the driver when boarding the bus.
How will I know if there is a change in my student's transportation?
High school and middle school students are notified of minor changes by their driver. Such notification will occur for two to three days before the change occurs, unless the change addresses a serious safety concern. When there is a change in an elementary route, written notification is sent home with students who ride the bus.