FAQ

Transportation Frequently Asked Questions

How can I contact Transportation?

Seattle Public Schools transportation office can be reached in the following ways:

Email: transdept@seattleschools.org
Phone: 206-252-0900

Mail:
Seattle Public Schools
Transportation Department
PO BOX 34165
MS 23-169
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Please include your student’s name, student ID number and contact information that you can be reached at.

PLEASE NOTE: Seattle Public Schools Transportation Department receives the highest volume of calls when school buses are providing service, between 7-10 a.m. and 2-5 p.m.


Updated FAQs

What are the service standards for arrival times for schools?
Buses routes are planned so that students arrive 15 minutes prior to school. The goal is to have buses arrive at the school with at least 10 minutes for breakfast before school starts.

I tried to call the Transportation Department and couldn’t get through. Why is that?
At the start of school the Transportation Department’s Call Center volume surges due to questions about bus stops, routing and timeliness of buses. Additional staff are provided during this time, however Call Center wait times may average 15 minutes. Telephone calls and e-mails coming into the Call Center are measured using GNav phone system data and Transdept e-mail data.  Since start of school the Call Center has received 12,593 calls and received 2439 e-mails. The Call Center has normalized since the start of school with the longest phone call wait time averaging 2 minutes.

I called the Transportation Department Call Center and they were not helpful.  What should I do?
‚Äč
Every individual contacting the Call Center or any employee in Transportation, regardless of being a school leader, parent, or citizen should be greeted with a positive tone and provided the name of the representative they are speaking with. Should the caller be treated with anything less than a respectful and service oriented interaction, please contact the Transportation Manager or Director of Logistics.

Do building leaders have a "hotline" for transportation issues?
Yes, school leaders are provided a separate number and receive priority reception in the Call Center. 

Are service issues handled directly through the vendor or do they route through SPS internal systems?
Service issues are handled through the Transportation Department who works with First Student to resolve any issues.

What visibility do we have into overall service quality?  How do we track on timeliness for pickups and drop off?
The Transportation Department uses for primary measures for service:

  1. GPS (Zonar) for tracking bus performance.
  2. Regional Transportation Staff reports
  3. Schools and Parents notifying Transportation of issues.
  4. Drivers call in to Dispatch after running 10 minutes behind on a route.

The biggest issue facing District Transportation is First Student not having a full staff of bus drivers.  All school districts are being affected by this nationwide bus driver shortage. However, Seattle is hit hard due to being a larger school district, coupled with the Cities low unemployment rate.  Bus driver’s work part-time and split shifts, which in itself poses difficulty in recruitment.

Transportation is extremely committed to high performance and although most of the buses are running on time, a handful are still experience issues due to lack of bus driver staff and the inexperience of some new and substitute drivers. These performance issues do not go unnoticed and are at the forefront of discussions with our current vendor.  First Student recently advised us of another raise in driver wages coming forward to attract and retain qualified drivers. They are offering free training and $1000 signing bonus. They have also hired a full time recruiter, specifically for SPS bus drivers.

Are service standards built into contract language and are there consequences for missing these targets?
The current contract provides for liquidated damages, for example: buses more than 15 minutes late, sub drivers, failure to follow route directions, failure to radio dispatch, late or missed trips, etc.

Do we have GPS on buses?
Every school bus is equipped with GPS (Zonar) which enables Transportation to track and trace vehicle movement.


Is my student eligible for transportation?

Complete information about transportation eligibility can be found in the Transportation Service Standards, which are located on the main transportation webpage.

If there are additional questions/inquires about transportation eligibility please contact the Seattle Public Schools transportation office.


What should I do if my student’s bus is late?

Drivers plan to run routes as scheduled. However, it is possible for delays to occur due to traffic, weather, construction and other circumstances that affect movement in a large urban area.

When the bus is late, we recommend that your student stay at the bus stop location. The bus, or a replacement bus will complete the route as soon as possible and you may miss the bus if you are not at the stop. Families should create a plan with their student in the event that the bus is late.

To get an update on the status of your student’s route, check the delayed bus information page on the transportation website. You may also contact transportation at 206-252-0900.

Visit our delayed bus webpage for late bus alerts.


Can I change to a different bus route/bus stop?

Students have one bus stop in the morning and one bus stop in the afternoon. If you are requesting a stop change for a daycare or alternate address you will need to contact the transportation office and provide the following information:

  • Complete daycare/alternate address
  • Name of the person responsible for your student
  • A phone number that person can be reached at
  • Your student’s name, student ID number and your contact information

Normal processing for a stop change request could take up to two weeks. Additional processing time should be expected during the start of the school year due to the high volume of requests. If you are requesting a different bus route or different stop location you will need to contact the transportation office and request your preferred bus/bus stop. Plan on providing a brief explanation for why you are requesting the change.

Your request will be checked against safety guidelines and the Transportation Service Standards. To see the Transportation Service Standards visit the main transportation webpage

Responses to requests are usually answered through the mail with a new assignment or a denial letter explaining the reasons for the decision.


I have a complaint regarding my student’s bus driver/bus service. What do I do?

To report a complaint you will want to contact the transportation office by email at transdept@seattleschools.org or 206-252-0900.

Be prepared to report the following information:

  • Bus route, date/time that the incident occurred
  • Explanation of the incident

If you want a response to the investigation you will need to leave your name and contact information.


Do I have to be at the bus stop in order for the bus driver to let my child off the bus?

For general education students in grades K- 12, parents do not have to be at the bus stop for their child to be let off the bus. However, we encourage all parents/guardians to have a plan in place so that their student arrives home safely.

Special education students in Pre-K and kindergarten must be met at their bus stop location in the afternoon.

Special education students in grades first through 12th must be met at their bus stop location, unless their parent/guardian has turned in the release of responsibility form which gives permission for their student to get off the bus without someone present. The release of responsibility form may be obtained from your student’s bus driver.

If a special education student cannot be dropped off because someone was not there for them, or a general education student was uncomfortable getting off the bus without someone there to meet them the following will occur:

  • The bus driver will contact their dispatcher to let them know that they have a student who cannot/will not get off the bus and in most cases, continue on their route to deliver any other students still on the bus.
  • The dispatcher will alert transportation staff who will attempt to contact the parent/guardian. oIf the parent/guardian can be reached, arrangements will be made to connect the student to their parent/guardian.

Is my daycare eligible for transportation?

Each student’s transportation has been established using the home or alternate/daycare address currently in our records.

If you are requesting a change for a daycare or alternate address you will need to email the transportation office at transdept@seattleschools.org.

Required information includes the following:

  • Complete daycare/alternate address
  • Name of the person responsible for your student
  • A phone number that person can be reached at
  • Your student’s name, student ID number and contact information that you can be reached at

If you are requesting that transportation be re-established based on the home address, please e-mail the transportation office at transdept@seattleschools.org.


Can I get an Orca card for my student?

ORCA cards are provided to students who meet eligibility requirements in the Transportation Service Standards.


I had a bus last year. Why don’t I get a bus this year?

There are a number of reasons why transportation service may be changed. There are ongoing changes each year and modifications which impact the transportation being provided. There are also several building relocations as schools are constructed or updated. Additionally, for a special education student, their IEP team may have determined the service is no longer required.


Can I change my student’s drop off bus stop for a day to go to a friend’s house?

Yes, your student may ride home with another student who is assigned to a bus route. A temporary transportation pass (yellow card) can be obtained through your student’s school. Most schools require a signed note from the parent/guardian giving permission for their student to ride the bus to another stop location. You will need to obtain the bus number and stop location.


Does the transportation office have a plan for inclement weather?

Yes, the transportation office develops routes to respond to ice and snow events. See the inclement weather transportation plan for details. Note, the inclement weather transportation plan is currently under refurbishment. Check back for updates in Fall of 2017.

© Seattle Public SchoolsWebsite by SchoolMessenger Presence opens a new window. © 2017 West Corporation. All rights reserved.