Elementary School students
Elementary School students through grade 5 are eligible for BPS yellow bus transportation if they live more than 1 mile from their school. Students in grade 6 are eligible if they live more than 1.5 miles from their school.
When you receive your child’s school assignment, it will include your child’s transportation eligibility. If your child is eligible, we will send a notice before school starts with the bus stop location, time of pick-up and drop-off, and bus numbers. Students in kindergarten through grade 6 who ride yellow buses are picked up and dropped off at a corner stop near home, in most cases within a half-mile of their home address.
Students in Grades 7-12
Transportation service for all students in grades 7-12 will be by MBTA trains and buses. BPS will provide monthly seven-day MBTA passes for all students in these grades to use this service. The MBTA will allow students to ride for free on the first day of school before they pick up their passes. Students in grade 6 may also opt to receive MBTA service instead of a yellow bus, provided they are eligible for yellow bus service. For schools that are not easily accessible by the MBTA, BPS may offer yellow bus shuttle service between an MBTA hub and the school. The BPS Department of Transportation and the MBTA will decide which schools might receive this service. MBTA passes are valid during all hours, seven days a week.
Please note that school bus drivers will drop off students, including kindergartners, at the bus stop even when the parent is not there. However, students may stay on the bus if they do not want to get off (such as if their parent or guardian is not at the bus stop). BPS officials will then try to locate the parent or guardian. 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.
Special Transportation Situations
We provide transportation services for students with disabilities in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan. Some students receive door-to-door (or “address”) service. If the student’s home address is not accessible to our buses, we may provide service at the nearest accessible corner. Other students with disabilities are picked up and dropped off at a corner near home, receive an MBTA pass, or walk to school.
Some students may have medical or physical conditions that prevent them from walking to school or to the corner bus stop. In these rare cases, BPS may provide door-to-door medical transportation. In order to be considered for this special service, your child’s doctor must complete an Individualized Collaborative Health Plan. You can obtain this form from the school nurse. Please return the form to the nurse, who will bring the information to the Student Support Team to determine if your child’s medical condition meets eligibility guidelines. If your child does not meet the guidelines, the nurse will contact you. Requests for medical transportation are reviewed by the individual school’s Student Support Team.
Please Note: Buses are not required to go into private parking lots.
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: bostonpublicschools.org/domain/1884. It is Circular SAF-08. 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, on the MBTA, at school bus stops, and at MBTA bus stops as we do in school. These standards also apply any time our students ride yellow buses or the MBTA—including outside regular school hours and on weekends. 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 should respect all other riders on the yellow bus and on the MBTA.
Students who violate School-Based Rules or the Code of Conduct while on the school bus or on the MBTA may be disciplined, referred to the Bus Safety Program at BPS Succeed Boston, and/or denied transportation, including deactivation of their MBTA pass. The student will be suspended only from the bus route on which the incident occurred. Denial of transportation for fewer than four days does not require a hearing. The school must notify the family before denying transportation. The student should still attend school.
Parents may request a bus stop near their child’s before or after-school program or daycare location, even if the student is not eligible for transportation between home and school, with these restrictions:
- The requested stop must be on one of the school’s regular bus routes
- There must be a seat available on the bus.
- The alternative stop must be the same for every school day.
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. All requests received before August 5th will receive a response by August 30 and, if approved, will take effect on the first day of school. Requests received in late August and September may take several weeks to process.
You may submit your request online at the website below, directly to the Transportation Department, or to the principal of your child’s school. During the summer, please submit your request online or in-person to the BPS Transportation Department, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury 02119.
For more information and an application:
Transportation Questions & Answers
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.
If I move during the school year, how do I change my child’s bus stop?
The BPS Transportation Department cannot process an address change. Please go to any Welcome Center with required proofs of residency (see Change of Address) and fill out a “change of address” form. 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 during the school year, your child can stay in the same school—but he or she may no longer be eligible for 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. New assignments are processed weekly on Wednesday mornings, so there may be some lag time from when a transfer is made to when a bus stop is assigned.
I’m worried about my student taking the T to school instead of a school bus. Is it safe?
We work closely with community agencies, the City Office of Neighborhood Services, the MBTA, and other stakeholders to keep our students safe. For example, we are improving coordination of police officers to ensure coverage at busy transit hubs and strengthening the involvement of school staff and volunteers through the Stopwatch and BPS Safety Ambassador programs. We may also provide yellow bus shuttles for students at less accessible schools.
If the bus is late, will my child be marked tardy?
The student will be marked tardy, but tardies due to “bus transportation” are excused and do not count.
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 System) to help locate vehicles in case there is an emergency.
My child is assigned to a bus, but I plan to drive her to school every day. Should I tell anyone?
Please fill out a Yellow-Bus Transportation Opt-Out Form. You can get the form at your school, the BPS Transportation Office, or here.
If you need the bus at a later date and you are eligible for transportation, please contact the Transportation Office and your student will be assigned to a bus.
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 or email to email@example.com.
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 ½ 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. Certain students may have a special education monitor as required by their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Principals may also request funding for “bus attendants” in special circumstances where there are serious behavior problems.
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 child restraint systems or wheelchair securement systems are in place.
How many students are allowed on each bus?
This varies according to the size of the bus. Full-size buses can safely take up to 71 elementary school students. Passengers are not allowed to stand. For safety reasons, only assigned students are allowed on school buses.
Do school buses have seat belts?
No, school buses do not require seat belts, although many of our smaller buses are equipped with child safety restraint systems that are designed as a safety option for students who weigh less than 40 pounds. All BPS school buses meet all federal and state safety standards.
More Information on Transportation Services