Frequently Asked Questions
What are the hours of operation of the transportation department?
The dispatch area is staffed from 6 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. every school day. Scheduling, administration, safety, and training departments operate from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Who should I call if the bus does not arrive on time?
Parents are first asked to make sure that the buses are operating and not cancelled due to poor weather or extreme cold. For more information on this, please read the information in the Transportation section of this website. Normally, according to policy, we ask that your child be at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled arrival time. If after 10 minutes the bus has not yet arrived, you should call the transportation office at 204.669.0202.
Do I have to meet my student at the bus stop?
The division is responsible for the safety of students using division-owned vehicles while the students are on the vehicle. It is the parents’/guardians’ responsibility to ensure the safety of students from home to the school bus pickup point, until boarding the school bus, and from disembarkation from the school bus to home. We do, however, track our new kindergarten students and highly recommend you bring them and meet them at the bus stop. Grades 1 through 12 students will be left off at their bus stop even if a parent is not there to meet them. You can make a “Must Be Met" request by contacting the transportation department. This stipulation will be relayed to the driver on the student manifest.
What happens if I don’t meet my kindergarten or "Must Be Met" student at the bus stop?
Upon reaching the stop, the bus driver will radio the dispatcher and request a call to your residence to notify you that the school bus has arrived at the stop. The driver will be instructed to keep your child on board and continue on with the route. After completion of the route, the principal will be notified and your child will be returned to the school. If you are in the habit of meeting your child but have not requested a “Must be Met” and, for whatever reason, are delayed in getting to the stop, the same will apply. Please remember that school buses are triple-routed, and it could be some time until your child is returned to the school. Also, should you be unable to meet the bus and you send someone the driver has not seen before, you should call the transportation office to notify them of the change.
Will my child have the same driver and the same bus number every day?
Your child may have different drivers between the morning and afternoon routes. However, they will be consistent in those routes from day to day, with the exception of sick leave, leave of absence, and employee turnover. Regarding buses, your child's bus number will be consistent most of the year, with the exception of when the bus is taken out of service for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. When this occurs, our spare buses are used as replacements. The spare buses are numbered in the 90s. Because of the size of the fleet and the number of students who are affected when a spare bus is used, parents are not notified of the change.
Can the driver stop at my house to pick up or drop off my child?
Drivers are not permitted to adjust routes, times or stops. Only certain students, whose needs are addressed through a personal transportation plan, are eligible for door-to-door service. This service is typically restricted to students with certain disabilities. For other students, service is provided in accordance with provincial and divisional guidelines that assure a maximum distance to the stop is not greater than 800 metres. Within these guidelines, every effort is made to improve route efficiency by clustering students to stops and, where possible, providing service on major streets.
Should I call if my child will not be on the bus on a particular day or route?
Because of the large volume of students we transport, we request that only parents of students with special needs call to cancel transportation on a particular day or route. For example, you may call to cancel just the morning pickup or just the afternoon take-home if you are going to pick up your child at the school. This saves time and worry for the drivers, wondering why their children have not come to the bus.
How does the driver know who my child is and where they belong?
There are several ways. First, each driver has a student manifest that provides information such as name, grade, address, pickup or drop-off point, time, school, and any special instructions. Examples of special instructions would be medical requirements, such as allergies, Epi-Pens, or “Must be Met” requests. Also, each kindergarten student is supplied with a badge the first day of school, identifying their name, school, drop-off point and take-home bus number. Teachers will pin the badges on students’ backpacks or, preferably, jackets. Besides these, the driver is in constant radio contact with the dispatcher. The dispatchers have access to all of the same data that the school has on your child.
Why is the bus late and why wasn’t I called?
Some situations that cause the bus to be late include traffic, road closures, weather, vehicle breakdowns, or circumstances from the prior bus route. In some instances, the bus is held up at the school waiting for students. The same holds true when picking up students. If 20 students are one minute late for the pickup, the bus will run 20 minutes late. This is very profound considering some buses can pick up as many as 250 students during the course of the morning routes. Since we operate close to 80 buses on 360 routes, transporting some 3,900 students, it is virtually impossible to contact parents when a bus is late. However, the transportation department is in constant radio communication with all of the buses. Should a driver foresee they will be 10 minutes behind schedule, they are required to inform the base and, in turn, the base notifies the school. At the beginning of the year, please expect the buses to run several minutes late, for usually a week, as this is an exciting time for parents. It takes time to have pictures taken, to say and wave goodbye, and, in some cases, some of our new riders can be very reluctant to leave their parents and go off alone to a strange place.
How will I be notified of a change to my child’s stop time or location?
We make every attempt to adhere to the pickup and drop-off times indicated. For the morning pickup, if the change is less than five minutes, the driver will notify your child of the change. If there is a change in stop time greater than five minutes, or a change in stop location or bus number, the transportation department will send written notification to you by mail. One copy of the notice will also be given to your child by the driver and another copy will be sent to your child’s school. The afternoon drop-off time indicated in your letter is an approximate time only. Buses do run late at times and can run early, as well. If your child’s bus arrives earlier than the normal drop-off time, it will likely be because some students who would normally be dropped off before your child are not on the bus, putting it ahead of schedule.
Can my child be dropped off at a different stop or go on another bus?
Students must ride on their assigned buses only. Parents can request a different existing stop on the same route, but it must be consistent every day. Students are not allowed to go on other buses for reasons such as birthday parties, sleepovers, etc.
My child’s bus is overcrowded. Can some children be placed on a different bus?
School bus sizes are stated in terms of passenger capacity for elementary-aged children. It is assumed that students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will ride three to a seat and students in Grade 7 and up will ride two to a seat. If the bus has three younger or two older students per seat, it may seem that the bus is overcrowded, but it will not, in fact, be over-capacity. It is our goal to fully utilize all the space on the buses in our fleet.
My child is currently being bused on a fee-for-service basis. Will there be busing available for him next year?
The transportation department re-evaluates the routing each new school year. Student demographics are affected from year to year due to graduations and people moving in and out of the school division. As a result, the routing can change dramatically. If there are no longer students that qualify for transportation in accordance with divisional policy in the area, buses will not be routed there. Subsequently, there would not be fee-for-service capabilities. As well, should the bus be at capacity, there would not be room for fee-for-service students.