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Frequently Asked Questions
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Student Bus Transportation FAQ

Student Bus Transportation FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions updated September 29 2021

  1. What has MPS done to address the driver shortage impact?
  • Beginning July 1, MPS has offered a $3000 hiring bonus for the School Bus Drivers in Training and School Bus Drivers positions. The Driver in Training position teaches people who are new to the industry how to drive a school bus- and help them obtain their CDL to become a fully licensed bus driver.
  • MPS has provided a $3000 retention bonus for our current bus drivers and offers them a $500 referral bonus for each referred candidate who is hired as a Bus Driver or Driver in Training.
  • A travel reimbursement was created for families who choose to transport their own students. To date, 1,485 families have submitted requests for the reimbursement program.
  • Transportation has expanded its Type III vehicle service to provide transportation to more students. Without these Type III vehicles more students and families would be impacted by the driver shortage. (Type III vehicles are small vans, cars or taxis that don’t require a CDL license).
  • Transportation has worked to route only students riding school buses. This includes asking families if they have chosen to Opt Out of transportation and removing students from routes who have not rode the school bus since the start of the school year. To date, over 2000 families have opted out of transportation.
  1. What can families do to help?
  • Let us know if your student will not be riding the bus by completing the Opt Out form. We understand that some families have decided to transport their student, instead of riding the bus, to get their child to school. If so, let us know so we are serving only the students who are riding the bus. If your student needs to ride the bus again, simply request transportation with your school and your student will be added back on the bus stop.
  • Talk with your student about what to do in case their bus does not arrive when expected. Families should develop a plan for their children if they wait unattended at the bus stop. Parents should advise their children as to how long they should wait for the bus and what to do if the bus does not come in that time frame.
  • Check the contact information on file with your student’s school. This includes making sure phone numbers are not blocking robocalls from MPS and opting in to receiving text messages. This will help to make sure your family is notified in a timely manner when there’s an impact to your student’s bus.
  • Use Here Comes The Bus to track your student’s yellow bus. Families are able to see where their child’s bus is on a map using the app. Here Comes The Bus will send a notification when the bus is nearing the bus stop.
  • Families are asked to talk with their students about the importance of wearing their face covering at all times while on the bus and in school. Additional face coverings are available on the bus if a student forgets to bring one with them. Face coverings are required for the driver, the bus aide (if present), and students.
  1. How long should my child wait before we know a bus is not coming? 

Students should arrive at their scheduled stop at least 5 minutes prior to their scheduled time and wait at their bus stop, if it is safe to do so, for up to 15 minutes past the scheduled pick up time

Families are strongly encouraged to use the Here Comes The Bus app, which will track their child’s bus and send a notification of when the bus is nearing the bus stop.

  1. If the bus is more than 15 minutes late, what should we do?

Check Here Comes The Bus to see where their yellow school bus is on a map and receive a notification when the bus is nearing the bus stop. Families should tell their student how long they should wait for the bus and what to do if the bus does not come in that time frame: students should be waiting at their assigned bus stop 5 minutes prior to their scheduled pick up time and should wait at their bus stop for up to 15 minutes past the scheduled pick up time, if it is safe to do so.

  1. Will families be notified if the bus is late or not coming?

MPS Transportation does its best to be aware of issues in advance; however, there may be times in the morning when there is a last-minute driver shortage causing a route to be inadvertently missed or run late if a substitute driver is not available or couldn’t be assigned on time.

As soon as MPS Transportation is aware that a bus is not coming, they will notify families by robocall. If families have opted to receive text messages, they will also receive a text message in addition to the robocall.

For buses that are running late, families should refer to the Here Comes The Bus app. Families are able to see where their child’s bus is on a map using the app. Here Comes The Bus will send a notification when the bus is nearing the bus stop. Families will also receive notifications on Here Comes The Bus if another bus has been substituted for the day.

We strongly recommend that someone has access to the family cell phone when students are waiting for the bus.

  1. Will Here Comes the Bus notify families when buses are not coming?

Here Comes The Bus will allow families to see where their yellow school bus is on a map and receive a notification when the bus is nearing the bus stop. However, Here Comes The Bus does not track Type III vehicles (typically, white vans, minivans or cars) or taxi cabs that some students may take to school. Families using these vehicles will be notified by MPS Transportation once they receive late-vehicle information.  

  1. It’s dangerous for our students to be waiting outside for a long time. How are we going to keep them safe?

When possible, families are highly encouraged to wait with their students at the bus stop or work with their neighbors to wait with a group of students. While this may not be an option for all families, ideally there would be one adult at a bus stop waiting with students. If waiting with your student at the bus stop is not an option, families should develop a plan for their student if they wait unattended at the bus stop--that plan should include how to get back into their home and if there are trusted neighbors they can turn to. 

Families should tell their student how long they should wait for the bus and what to do if the bus does not come in that time frame: students should be waiting at their assigned bus stop 5 minutes prior to their scheduled pick up time and should wait at their bus stop for up to 15 minutes past the scheduled pick up time, if it is safe to do so.

  1. How will MPS make sure that one area of the city is not impacted more than another area?

​Because MPS cannot control which routes are not covered at the last moment, we will not be able to plan ahead on which areas of the city may be more affected than others.  However, all routes will have the option of a second-chance bus if needed so that students are transported to school, although this will happen later in the morning once a bus is available.

  1. Will this impact Special Education students whose transportation is required by law?

MPS is required by law to provide transportation for all students who are eligible, not only Special Education. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions on which routes to delay based on safety of where children are waiting for a bus. Should instructional time be impacted for any student, schools will work closely with Special Education to ensure instructional minutes are met.

  1. Will my child be counted as late (tardy) to school if they're late due to the bus?

Because MPS is required by law to maintain records of when a student is on-site, a student will be counted as “Exempt” or “B” on their attendance record. An attendance clerk can also mark a note in the attendance system as to why the student has received an exempt tardy. Please see your school principal with concerns about this.

  1. When MPS does not have a driver to cover a route, are students just not supposed to go to school that day?

All students are expected to attend school every day unless they have an excused absence. If a student was not able to be picked up in the morning, another bus can be sent back out once it has finished its previous route. Families will be notified that a second-round bus will be sent with enough time for students to return to the bus stop before the bus arrives. If a student misses both buses, families should call their school to discuss next steps. (Also see question 7 below for more information.)

  1. How will my child get the schoolwork and learning activities for the classes they miss or are late for due to transportation issues?

The school is required to provide schoolwork or learning activities for missed class time when tardiness or absence is due to transportation. This schoolwork should not be “extra” homework nor should it be difficult for a student to complete independently. Families should work with their student’s teacher to make sure schoolwork can be completed in a reasonable time.

  1. What does public health guidance say about social distancing on buses?

Social distancing is not required in current guidance from MDE, but it is recommended. A key way to stay safe from COVID, according to public health guidance, is to wear face coverings while on public transportation, including school buses. This is a federal mandate on all public transportation

Families are asked to talk with their students about the importance of wearing their face covering at all times while on the bus and in school. Additional face coverings are available on the bus if a student forgets to bring one with them. Face coverings are required for the driver, the bus aide (if present), and students. 

  1. Can I opt out of bus transportation for my child so they are taken off the route?

Yes. MPS does ask that you notify MPS Transportation if your student is eligible for transportation, but will not be using school transportation. You can opt out by filling out the Opt Out Transportation Request 2021-22 or calling Transportation at 612.668.2300.

  1. If I opt out of transportation, can I receive a reimbursement for bringing my student to and from school every day?

Yes. Transportation will offer a reimbursement to families who are able to transport their own students. You can find more information, including the reimbursement request form on the Transportation’s Bus Reimbursement website.