Transportation Update
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Important Updates to Student Bus Transportation

Important Updates to Student Bus Transportation

Week of November 12, 2018:

In partnership with Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Minneapolis Public Schools is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, November 27 from 3:30pm to 7pm. We are looking to hire staff members who can create a safe and welcoming environments for learning. Join us to learn more and apply. We’re looking for:

  • Custodians
  • Food Service/Nutrition Workers
  • Bus Drivers
  • Child Care Workers (before and after school)

Job Fair will be held at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters at 2117 West River Road N. Minneapolis, MN 55411.
Come take on a job that will make a difference in kids’ lives!

Week of November 5, 2018:

On Sunday we turned back clocks for the end of Daylight Savings which is great for the extra hour of sleep but can create some additional safety concerns for students getting to school. The shorter daylight hours can create more hazards for children waiting for and leaving their buses after being dropped off. Parents should make sure children have a safe place to wait for their bus, away from traffic and instruct their children to stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter. Read our Bus Safety page for more tips for staying safe. 

Minneapolis Public Schools and our service providers are working hard to hire and train drivers in order to close the gap between the amount of work and available drivers. Our service providers continue to return a few routes to the district because of the driver shortage, although the number of routes returned has significantly decreased with most uncovered routes being in the afternoon. Fortunately, Transportation Services office staff have not driven a route for the past week to two weeks because we have available drivers to cover those afternoon routes. The office staff is happy to focus fully on their daily responsibilities of assigning new or moving students to bus stops, processing change requests for existing students, responding to concerns on buses or at bus stops and just generally managing the busy world of transportation!

Week of October 29, 2018:

The field trip restriction has been lifted for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Afternoon field trips may return to school after 1:30 p.m. on those days.

The time restriction is still in place on Mondays and Fridays- no afternoon field trips may be scheduled with a return to school time after 1:30 p.m. We hope to lift this restriction completely in the near future, although no date has been set.

Week of October 22, 2018:

Held during the third full week of October each year, National School Bus Safety Week is a public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety.
 

Parents, this week is a great time to review Minneapolis Public Schools’ Bus Safety Rules with your student.
 

Motorists also play a vital role in bus safety by learning and following the laws pertaining to school buses. Knowing the safe driving procedures when buses are present, and most importantly, when to stop for a bus help keep kids safe.
 

Click here for more bus stop safety tips for students, parents, teachers and community members from the National Association for Pupil Transportation.

Week of October 15, 2018:

School is closed for MEA on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week- no school bus service will be provided on those days. Transportation Services will resume as normal on Monday, October 22. Have a fun and safe long weekend!

Week of October 8, 2018:

Minneapolis Public Schools continues to cover 17 routes that had been previously awarded to our contractors through the contract  bid process. Transportation Services has assigned MPS office personnel with Commercial Driver’s License to drive buses in order to fill these additional routes, ensuring all MPS children have a safe ride to and from school. However the ripple effect for these office personnel is the delay in completing their normal responsibilities. Please know that Transportation Services is working hard to cover all work within a reasonable timeframe.

School Transportation Coordinators serve as the link between families and Transportation Services; they should be the first point of contact for parents regarding their student’s transportation needs. Coordinators are responsible for assisting with stop requests, monitoring the performance of the buses serving their school and maintaining student safety and conduct records. Click here to view your school’s Transportation Coordinator.

Week of October 1, 2018:

The temporary restriction on afternoon field trips with a return time past 1:30pm is still in place as we have had to cover 20 routes from our contractors this week. Coverage for after school bus service continues to be tight but we’re happy to report that the morning runs are much improved.

Got questions about how bus stops are determined for students? Read the District’s bus stop guidelines that detail how many stops are available to each student, defined walk distances to bus stops and schools and more. We’ve also included information regarding bus stop exceptions to the guidelines- what are they, why they exist and how to request one.

MPS is currently taking numerous steps in order to attract and retain bus drivers. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Banners, posters, and business cards throughout the metro, including local community and recreational centers

  • Pursuit of advertisement on local and state radios, newspapers, etc.

  • Staffing agencies for direct hire recruitment possibilities.

  • Adjourning partnership with other metro and bus driving agencies and companies across the twin cities.

  • Pursuing and fostering a “Grow Your Own” program within MPS

Our Transportation Services Improvement Plan outlines additional areas and means of improvement within the department.

Week of September 24, 2018:

When severe weather is possible, Minneapolis Public Schools monitor the forecast from the National Weather Service.  Severe weather, such as thunderstorm watches and warnings or tornado watches and warnings, can impact bus service. Click here to read more about bus safety during severe weather.

Week of September 17, 2018:

In the first weeks of school, Transportation processed over 6,100 changes to bus routing requested by families and schools. MPS continues to cover additional routes, in the midst of our driver shortage, as our contractors are also experiencing staffing shortages. On average, we continue to cover as many as 28 routes a day that were unscheduled.

Due to the ongoing shortage of drivers and until the situation changes, schools are asked to not schedule field trips that require return bus transportation after 1:30 p.m. Transportation Services will provide buses for field trips already scheduled with that later return time, but cannot provide them going forward until further notice. To repeat, field trips already scheduled with a return time later than 1:30 p.m. arrival will be honored. Newly requested field trips will not.

Transportation for athletic games will be the next priority for coverage after daily morning and afternoon school transportation.

We’ve searched for other solutions but are unable to find a way, given the scarcity of bus drivers, to provide this late afternoon service for field trips. Transportation Services has attempted to find other providers beyond our current contractors to fulfill these needs, but there simply isn’t much availability throughout the system to accommodate at this point. This restriction will be in place until further notice. Thank you for understanding. 

We’re sorry to report the Here Comes The Bus pilot implementation date has been delayed again due to installation issues related to critical GPS tracking. Here Comes The Bus is an app families can use to track the real-time location of their student(s). GPS tracking for bus routes is much more complicated than GPS tracking used every day to navigate individuals around the city and we have to get this right. As soon as we have a new pilot date, we will let you know.

September 12, 2018:

Monday was what we call a ”route change day,” where the previous three days’ busing changes are implemented. Changes are made, for example, if buses can’t get to a stop on time, addresses change and or students are added to the route. These kinds of changes can impact bus times slightly as drivers and students get used to the new routes and routines.

In the first weeks of school, Transportation processed over 6,100 changes to bus routing requested by families and schools. We expect some of the Transportation system issues to ease this week as students and new drivers become more familiar with their routes. That being said, we are still covering as many as 20 routes each morning and afternoon for our contractors due to their bus driver shortages.

We will see some ongoing delays in transporting students to and from schools due to the continued staffing shortages at MPS Transportation, the District Communications Center, and with the bus companies with whom we contract. Like many Metro area school districts, Minneapolis Public Schools is coping with an industry-wide bus driver shortage which is especially acute in the Twin Cities due to our tight local labor market. We apologize for the frustrations this has caused our students, families and school staff and realize the level of service needs to improve. Please know we are working hard to resolve issues, but there are many factors out of our control. please see our Transportation Services Improvement Plan for more details.

We're working to keep MPS families in the loop! Transportation Services and IT Services have been working to fully implement a GPS-based vehicle tracking system, which will provide real-time location of your student's bus. Click the link to read more about Here Comes The Bus.