Frequently Asked Questions

bus-girl-hard-hat.jpgDon't see an answer to your question or concern? Please contact us! 

  • Is my student eligible to ride the bus?

    See the eligibility page for details.

  • How far will my student need to walk to get to his or her assigned bus stop?
    For students in elementary school - four to six blocks; middle school - six to eight blocks; high school - eight to ten blocks.

  • How are bus routes and stops determined?
    Bus routes and stops are planned to provide the safest and most efficient service during all weather and road conditions. Students typically ride 30 to 60 minutes on a bus to school and from school. Riding times may be longer when there are traffic jams, breakdowns, or icy/snowy roads.

  • Why do routes change?
    Throughout the school year, your student's bus route may change. Because we provide transportation for nearly 10,000 students every day, it's not uncommon for stops to be added or removed as families move in and out of school boundaries. Long term construction safety concerns are another reason we may have to adjust bus stop locations. As stops are adjusted, pick up and drop off times may be impacted.

    Changes to routes usually take effect on Mondays and Thursday. Be sure to visit the
    All Bus Stop site often to see if there are any updates to your bus route. If we make a significant change that impacts the stop time by more than 10 minutes, you'll hear from us directly!

  • Do I need to contact the Transportation Office if my student is absent?
    Please notify your school to let them know that your student will be absent. If you receive transportation services through the Homeless/McKinney Vento program, notify the Transportation office anytime your student is absent: 253.571.1855

  • My student is enrolled in special education services. Is he/she eligible for transportation?
    Transportation for students receiving special education services is determined by the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP). Please inquire with the Special Education department to determine eligibility.

  • Do I need to be at the stop when my student gets off the bus?
    If your student is in kindergarten and is the only child getting off at the stop, then a parent/guardian must be present. If no one is at the stop, the student will be taken back to the school. For all other students, parents do not have to be at the bus stop. However, we encourage all families to have a plan in place so your student arrives home safely. 

  • Can my student ride home with a friend on a different bus?
    A request to ride a different bus, or to be dropped at a different stop, can be granted when a written note signed by a parent or guardian is sent to the school office, which is then provided to the bus driver. These notes are valid for one day only and may not be used on a continuing basis. Students should always have their student identification with them and show it to the bus driver if asked.

  • Why might my student's bus say First Student on the side? 
    First student is our contractor for providing transportation for general education students and some students with special needs. The Tacoma School District bus fleet provides transportation for special education students. 

  • My student attends a Tacoma school, but does not live in the Tacoma district. 
    Is transportation available?
    In general, the student would not be eligible. There are some exceptions to this guidline, including students who are homeless and eligible through the McKinney-Vento Act. Some programs may be eligible for a Pierce Transit ORCA pass. Please inquire with your school to determine available options.

  • Are buses available to serve students who attend after-school activities?
    Students may ride after-school activity buses by showing the driver their student identification. These buses drop students off in areas covered by the home-to-school bus routes. Bus stops are district sites (i.e. elementary schools). See the All Bus Stops page for a complete listing. 

  • Why might the bus be running late?
    Just like a typical commute to work, traffic is the most common reason for a bus running late. Sometimes our buses experience breakdowns and need a quick safety adjustment by the shop mechanic before leaving the bus yard. And while our drivers are super heroes on the road, their immune systems aren’t always up for the job! Our drivers might need to call out sick and finding a substitute could put the bus behind schedule. Thank you in advance for your patience as our new drivers and substitute drivers learn their routes for the school year.

  • What if we move during the school year?
    If a student's residence changes during the year, but is still within the transportation boundary for the current school, transportation will continue to be provided. However, if the new residence is outside of that boundary, transportation will not be provided by the district.

  • What if I need to change transportation services during the school year?
    If a change in transportation is desired during the school year, the parent or guardian can contact the bus coordinator at the school (ask at the school office to be directed to the right person). The coordinator will prepare a Bus Run/Stop Change Request and forward it to the District Transportation Department for review. If the student is eligible, you will be informed of the new bus stop and time by the school bus coordinator.

  • If we are denied transportation and wish to appeal, what do we do?
    You may appeal a denial of a Bus Run/Stop Change Request to the Transportation Appeals Board. Please contact the bus coordinator at you school, who will forward the appeal to the Transportation Department. You will be notified of the date, time, and place for the Transportation Appeals Board session.

  • Is there any safety equipment on the buses?
    Yes, there are Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Video/Audio cameras on buses. GPS allows the transportation department managers and dispatchers to locate a bus, determine if a bus has been to a particular bus stop, and check to make sure the route is on schedule.

    Cameras are present on the buses as an aid to student safety. Cameras help monitor, for the safety of all passengers, whether student conduct on the bus is safe and in alignment with the rules for ridership. Cameras do not replace the discipline policy, the authority of the driver, or the responsibility of school officials. Video monitors help district administrators take appropriate corrective action in the event that violations of the rules are recorded.