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Transportation Update
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Important Updates to Student Bus Transportation

Important Updates to Student Bus Transportation

Previously updates were made on a weekly basis; they will now be made as needed. 

June 24, 2019:

Start your career with Minneapolis Public Schools as a bus driver! MPS has a Driver-in-Training position for eligible candidates. Get paid while you train to become a fully licensed school bus driver! 

Learn more at one of our upcoming job fairs:

Wednesday, June 26 or Thursday, July 11

Davis Educational Center
1250 W. Broadway, Minneapolis
5:00-7:00 p.m.

Or call today to sign up:
612.668.2378 to speak with Rob Anderson of the Driver Training Academy

April 22, 2019: 

Transportation Services will be restricting bus service for field trips to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only and only between 9:45 am and 1:00 pm. All afternoon field trips must return to school no later than 1:00 pm on those days. No field trips will be scheduled for any time on Mondays and Fridays. These restrictions will go into place this week. Transportation Services will work with sites to honor Field Trips that are already scheduled with a return time later than 1:00 p.m. 

March 13, 2019:

Icy side streets and cars parked on both sides of the street are causing numerous issues for bus drivers as they navigate to bus stops and schools. The transition from snow emergency parking rules to one-side parking restrictions in Minneapolis meant that many side streets had cars parked on both sides, making them nearly impassable for buses. There appeared to be little or no treatment of side streets resulting in icy ruts and snowbanks that caused narrow lanes. The extremely icy side street have also caused issues with buses unable to stop or start on hills. 

Transportation Services is working to ensure all students are transported to and from school safely, although delays are expected. Please contact your school's transportation coordinator for up to date information regarding your child's school bus. 

February 25, 2019:

MPS will celebrate Minnesota's third annual School Bus Driver Appreciation Day on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. MPS school bus drivers are hard-working professionals who safely transport our students every day; a day of appreciation is one small way we can thank them for their service. MPS wil honor our drivers with coffee and donuts, thank you cards from MPS students will decorate Transportation Services' building and Superintendent Graff will be on hand to personally thank and recognize our drivers. MPS families are encouraged to show their appreciation for drivers in small ways as well.

The day of appreciation is led by Minnesota School Bus Operators Association and Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation. The Interstate 35W bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis will be illuminated yellow to show thanks to the drivers who protect and transport more than 760,000 students each day throughout Minnesota. Exceptional school bus drivers from around the state will be recognized at a press conference in Golden Valley on February 27. The program will include a plea asking Minnesota drivers to obey school bus stop arms. School bus drivers across Minnesota are reporting increasing occurrences of stop arm violations each year, which puts student safety at serious risk. You can read more about this growing concern here.

February 12, 2019:

From MPS Superintendent, Ed Graff:

Challenging weather events have bookended a difficult stretch here at MPS. With four days of closure last week and already canceling after-school activities three times this week, there’s no question of weather’s impact on schools. 

Recently I made a video to explain some of the factors that go into decisions around weather. Today, I’d like to shed some light on why it’s often all-or-nothing in MPS. We’re either closed or open, have after-school activities or don’t. 

Late starts and early dismissals just don’t work within our system. Our transportation realities combined with our varied school start and end times mean we either have a full day of school, acknowledging there will be delays and challenges with getting students to school, or we cancel school.

Similarly, prioritizing student and staff safety and recognizing transportation constraints (such as the ongoing driver shortage) impact whether or not we have after-school activities. If MPS cancels after-school activities, we usually cancel all activities (with certain exceptions.) This keeps the message simple – an important consideration with a very diverse audience.

There are never easy answers when it comes to school and weather, and we make the best decision we can with the information we have – and with weather, the information changes constantly. Our focus will always be on keeping students and staff safe while ensuring they have as many opportunities as possible to learn and grow.

Week of February 4, 2019:

Main roads in Minneapolis have a lot of slippery spots and some side streets are completely ice covered. Our buses are finding it particularly difficult to navigate streets with inclines or hills, and many are delayed due to the slow moving traffic. As a result, many buses are experiencing delays of up to an hour and students may have lengthy waits at bus stops. The District Call Center is managing a high volume of calls so if you have questions about your student’s bus, your school has the most up-to-date information about the location of late buses. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we prioritize student safety this morning. Students who are late or absent today due to the weather challenges will receive an excused absence per our attendance guidelines.

Minneapolis Public Schools is planning for its third annual WINTER WELLNESS WEEK with a week-long virtual medal hunt, complete with rhyming clues, and themed days and events designed to foster a culture of social, emotional, and physical well-being across the district. Read more information on the week-long event here.

Week of January 7, 2019:

Welcome back from Winter Break!

Transportation Service is still experiencing severe driver shortages; we currently have 43 vacancies. We continue to partner closely with Human Resource to recruit and retain drivers as well as analyze our system to increase efficiencies where possible.

Next week you may notice a new driver on your route. The union representing bus drivers has developed a system of bidding on routes based on seniority. This bidding happens twice a year- before school begins and again before Winter Break, with assignment changes happening the second week of school after the break. Please take a moment to welcome them and introduce yourself and your child(ren). We really appreciate the positive impact families can have with drivers- these small moments go a long ways towards retention.  Click here if you’d like more information about Local 320.

Lastly, to ensure the safe transportation of our youngest students, midday Hi-5 students will now be transported from their home address. Previously these students were assigned to a neighborhood bus stop, requiring them to walk home alone after a morning program or to wait at an empty bus stop for an afternoon program when no other students are present.

This change is only for midday Hi-5 students and does not require a custodial transfer (a parent is not required to be present or visible for the bus driver to drop off the student). For students with homes on one-way streets, they will be routed to the closest safe stop.

Transportation Services is happy to provide the additional care these young learners need. This change will be in effect beginning January 9, 2019 with the normal change day process. Your school transportation coordinator will alert your family if your child's stop has changed.

Week of December 17, 2018

It is highly encouraged that families 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. Even the most dependable bus can be delayed for an extended amount of time, particularly during the winter months. Click here to read more winter weather safety tips for students and their families.

Online school enrollment is now open! The MPS School Guide for 2019-20 school year provides information about available student programs and services, as well as transportation options.

Visit the Student Placement Services to learn more about the enrollment process. School requests for the 2019-2020 school year are due Feb. 8.

Beginning Monday, December 24, schools will on Winter break during the weeks of December 24 and December 31. There will be no operations for Transportation Services during these two weeks. Service will begin again the week of January 7th when schools return to session. During the break, no updates will be added to this page.

Have a safe and relaxing break and we look forward to seeing everyone in the New Year!

Week of December 3, 2018:

We have begun the field test of Here Comes The Bus (HCTB) for two schools- Loring and Armatage Elementary Schools. During the field test parents from these two schools can create HCTB accounts to track their child's bus. The field test is limited to just two schools so that we are able to closely monitor the project and quickly respond to issues and feedback. By working closely with these two schools and their parents, we can work to ensure a smooth and successful release of Here Comes The Bus to additional schools going forward. To read more about the project, go to Here Comes The Bus website.

Week of November 26, 2018:

Just a quick reminder that Minneapolis Public Schools and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board are hosting a job fair tomorrow- Tuesday, November 27 from 3:30 pm to 7 pm. At the job fair you can meet representatives from the various departments looking to hire employees and learn what it means to work for MPS. Be sure to find the Transportation Services table to learn more about becoming a school bus driver!

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 19, 2018:

Transportation Services is excited to announce Here Comes The Bus is ready for field testing at two school sites. During the field test, Transportation Services and IT Services will monitor families usage and contractors compliance. From this field test the project team will be able to respond to feedback for a more successful district-wide launch. Watch this page and the Here Comes The Bus page for more information as this project progresses.

The Teamsters Local 320 union representing MPS’ bus drivers have approved the retention bonus proposed by Minneapolis Public Schools. Bus drivers are eligible to earn an additional $1/hour, for actual hours worked up to 40 hours a week, if they have no unplanned absences from work and have no performance or behavior issues that impact student safety.

This bonus will aid in attracting qualified candidates to Minneapolis Public Schools while reducing accidents and other performance issues that impact students. The bonus is one aspect of our Transportation Services Improvement Plan and we’re happy the bonus was ratified both parties!

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.