School Bus TransportationBPS provides yellow bus service to 33,000 students on more than 700 school buses every day. We offer service to BPS students, as well as students who attend charter, private and parochial schools. Our fleet drives approximately 26,000 miles per day and we average about 95 percent on-time service.
Every school bus is equipped with a GPS system that allows us to locate the school bus in real-time. Parents can use the free "Where's my School Bus" app online to locate their child's bus when it is on the road in the morning and afternoon. Parents can also call our Transportation Hotline at (617) 635-9520 with questions.
BPS students are eligible for transportation if they live more than:
- 1 mile from their elementary school;
- 1½ miles from their middle school (includes grades 6–8 attending K–8 schools);
- 2 miles from their high school.
The BPS notice that lets families know their school assignment will also let you know whether your child is eligible for school bus transportation. In late August, if your child is eligible, you will receive a notice with the bus stop location, time of pick-up and drop-off, and bus numbers. Kindergarten and elementary school students who ride yellow buses are picked up and dropped off at a corner stop near home. Bus service for eligible middle and high school students may be by yellow school bus, MBTA service, or a combination of both. Monthly MBTA passes are provided free of charge to eligible students at their assigned school. Please note that bus drivers will drop off students, including kindergartners, at the bus stop even when the parent is not there.
Private Transportation Services
Some families arrange to have their children driven to and from school by a private transportation service or individual. For safety reasons, the school will not release a student to anyone other than the custodial parent or guardian without the parent’s written permission. If you are arranging private transportation for your child, be sure to sign a release form. You can get it from the school or on the BPS website at Superintendent’s Circular SAF-8. This form releases the BPS from any liability if there is a problem with the private service.
Behavior on the Bus
The BPS considers the school bus to be “an extension of the classroom.” That means we have the same standards of behavior on the school bus (or on the MBTA going to and from school) as we do in school. For example, students should remain in their seats; and they should not hang out of windows, push or fight with other students, throw things, or try to distract the driver. Students who violate School-Based Rules or the Code of Conduct while on the bus may be disciplined, referred to the Bus Safety Program at the BPS Counseling & Intervention Center, and/or denied transportation.
GPS and cameras on school buses
BPS has equipped every school bus with a GPS unit that allows the District and parents to track the location of our school buses in real-time. This helps ensure on-time service for students. In the summer of 2014 BPS is installing cameras on our school buses, which will be active for the 2014-15 school year. BPS is one of the last major school districts in the nation to install this equipment. Cameras will record activity on board buses but the recordings will only be stored for a short period. Recordings will be used to investigate incidents, such as accidents or safety allegations, and will help ensure safe travel for all students and staff. BPS is posting notices on buses about the technology so families and students are aware. The system is called Smart Drive and is similar to the systems already in place on the MBTA and many other school bus programs across the country, including elsewhere in Massachusetts. The system is capable of recording audio but this feature has not been activated. Audio recording would only be enabled after the development of a policy with community input.
Parents may request a bus stop near their child’s before- or after-school program or day care location, with certain restrictions:
- The requested stop must be on one of the school’s regular bus routes; and
- There must be a seat available on the bus.
Parents should be aware that BPS does not guarantee that the request for an alternative stop will be granted. We process alternative stop requests in the order they are received. Please note that requests received in late August and September may take several weeks to process. The earlier you submit your request, the better your chance for approval.
You may submit your request directly to the Transportation Department or to the principal of your child’s school, who will forward it to Transportation. During the summer, please submit your request to:
Boston Public Schools
26 Court Street, 4th floor
Boston, MA 02108
ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION FACT SHEET
Learn more about alternative transportation options
ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION REQUEST FORM
Fill out and return this form to submit your request
Frequently Asked Questions
If I move during the school year, how do I change my child’s bus stop?
First, go to any BPS Welcome Center with the proper proofs of residency and fill out a “change of address” form. The BPS Transportation Department cannot change your address. After you have changed your address at the Welcome Center, the Transportation Department will assign your child to a new bus stop if he or she is eligible for transportation. If you move out of your zone, your child can stay in the same school—but he or she will not be eligible for any transportation services.
My child transferred to another school. How do I change the bus stop?
The BPS will automatically assign a new bus stop if your child is eligible for transportation.
If the bus is late, will my child be marked tardy?
No. Students are not marked “tardy” if their school bus arrives at school late.
Do buses have radios or phones so the driver can be contacted or call for help?
Yes, all buses have two-way radios. They also are equipped with GPS (Global Positioning Systems).
My child is assigned to a bus, but I plan to drive her to school every day. Should I tell anyone?
Please notify the Transportation Department in writing. You can give the letter to the principal or mail it to:
Boston Public Schools
26 Court St., Boston, MA 02108
If you change your mind and want your child to take the bus, we can usually re-start service within a week.
Whom should I call if my child is having a problem with the driver or with another student on the bus?
Always tell the principal first. If the principal can’t solve the problem, contact the Transportation Department, 617-635-9520.
If I think my child’s bus stop is unsafe or too far from my house, what can I do?
First, check with your child’s school to be sure the address on your child’s record is correct. When assigning bus stops, the Transportation Department considers student safety and operating the most efficient routes possible. In most cases, school bus stops are located within ¼ mile of a student’s home. If you think the BPS has made a mistake in the placement of your child’s bus stop, contact the Transportation Department. They will review the stop and may make an adjustment. But please note that many students who do not receive transportation often walk up to a mile to their school.
Do school buses have monitors?
Due to a limited budget, most buses do not have monitors. However, principals may request funding for monitors in special circumstances.
What responsibilities does the bus driver have while transporting children?
The driver is responsible for delivering students to and from school safely and on time. Responsibilities include: operation of the vehicle; supervision of boarding and discharge; supervision of students while riding the bus; reporting safety and behavior incidents to the principal; and (if applicable) being sure that seat belts, child restraint systems, or wheelchair securement systems are in place.
Is the driver allowed to leave small children at a bus stop if no adult is there to meet the child?
Yes. The parent is responsible for being sure someone meets the child every day. If a student seems afraid or unwilling to be left at the stop, the driver will keep the student on the vehicle and continue on the route until a parent can be contacted. Parents should make sure their children are familiar with the surroundings at their bus stop and know the safest route to walk home if no one is there to meet them.
How many students are allowed on each bus?
This varies according to the size of the bus. Full-size buses can take up to 71 elementary school students. Passengers are not allowed to stand.
Do school buses have seat belts?
Full-size school buses do not require seat belts. All BPS school buses meet all federal and state safety standards.