Frequently Asked Questions About Student Transportation

The routes:

Q: What’s the difference between bus numbers and route numbers?

A: The bus number is the number of the vehicle itself, whereas the route number is the white magnetic sign that is stuck on the side by the door. We use route numbers because the actual bus that transports may change (in for service, or inspection, etc.), but the route number won’t. If you call with a question, it helps if you know your child’s route number, not the bus number.

Q: How are the routes organized?

A: Our routes have numbers that help us (and you) identify them. For our public school routes, they are given numbers that identify them to the elementary school they service. The route ranges are below:

  • Routes 20 – 25: Rosendale Elementary
  • Routes 30 – 36: Glencliff Elementary
  • Routes 40 – 46: Craig Elementary
  • Routes 50 – 55: Hillside Elementary
  • Routes 60 – 66: Birchwood Elementary
    (Exceptions: Some routes cover elementary schools in the afternoon as daycare drop off buses)
  • Routes 70 – 100: Non-Public and Special Needs

Routes 20 – 66 identify their elementary school base route, most of these routes are big buses, that also do High School, Middle School, and perhaps a private school also.

The most common schedule for the above in the morning is: high school, elementary, then middle school. In the afternoon, its elementary, high school, middle school. The #70 – 100 routes are mostly small buses, vans, and wheelchair equipped buses.

Bus stops:

Q: I can’t see my child at the bus stop from my house. Why can’t the stop be at my house?

A: It is impossible for us to route according to sight lines from houses. Students are expected to travel a certain distance to bus stops, depending on their school grade level: elementary – 1/10th of a mile from home to bus stop; middle school – 2/10ths of a mile; high school – 3/10ths of a mile.

Q: I don’t feel comfortable sending my child to the house down the street. Why can’t the stop be at my house?

A: A bus stop is a series of maneuvers designed with safety as the utmost concern. The driver follows set procedures in executing the stop – stopping, observing, opening the door, boarding or releasing passengers, observing, crossing, closing the door, and so on. It is safer for these stops to be spread out so the driver can complete all these actions. More stops also increase the length of the bus ride.

Q: My child has to cross two streets to get to the bus stop. What are you doing to insure my child gets to and from the stop safely?

A: It is the parent’s responsibility to get the child to and from the bus stop. It is the District’s responsibility to give the child a safe place to be picked up and dropped off. Unless the child needs to cross a 4-lane highway or a raging river (for example), how children get to stops is not the District’s responsibility (per State Ed decisions on appeals from parents).

Q: I still don’t feel comfortable. What recourse do I have to get the stop changed?

A: The first step is to call our office with your concerns. In many cases we will agree with you, and make changes immediately. If not, we will ask that you put your concerns in writing to us. In the meantime, a “Bus Stop Review” will be conducted by the Transportation Department. Upon receipt of your written request, he will respond in writing, as well as call, with the results of his decision. If it’s not in your favor, your request can be pursued with Assistant Superintendent for Business.

Q: The stop is up the street, on the opposite side. Does my child have to cross the street?

A: It is your choice to either let your student be on the correct side when the bus comes, or wait until the bus arrives, and then cross on the drivers signal, with the bus’ lights activated. We prefer the latter, as the bus can control traffic.

Q: In regards to crossing, are there students who don’t cross?

A: All students are expected to cross in front of the bus if needed, depending on the bus stop location. We do not cross certain grade levels in certain areas (no elementary grades cross Balltown Rd., for example).

Q: I have been told that my elementary age child must transfer buses. How is that done, and is it safe?

A: All transfers are done at schools, and are supervised by the bus drivers and/or school staff. No elementary students are left on their own to find their transfer bus.

Riding the bus:

Q: Can a friend come home with my child on the bus?

A: Yes, if there’s room, and also with a note stamped in the school office (elementary and middle schools). High school students may ride any bus and get off at any authorized stop without a note. Behavior problems will affect this privilege, however.

Non-Public School Students: We cannot transport students from another district on our buses — no exceptions.

Q: My daughter plays the cello. The driver is giving her a hard time about getting it on the bus because its crowded. What do I do?

A: We try to accommodate everyone, but we won’t add another bus because musical instruments take up a large number of seats. Generally, if the bus is full, and the item doesn’t fit on their laps, parents should make other arrangements to get their child or the instrument to school.

Q: Are there certain items not allowed on the buses?

A:  It is the bus drivers’ discretion to restrict items coming aboard if they feel safety is an issue. If in doubt, call us to ask.

Q: My child’s bus ride seems very long, and I’m only 5 minutes from school. What can be done about that?

A: All our elementary routes range from 30 to 50 minutes long, depending on the school and pick up area. However, the time from any home directly to school is probably only 5 minutes or less. We are transporting an average of 65 students per bus, sometimes making 25 stops. Everybody is close, and someone always has to be first.

The bus driver:

Q: Who is the bus driver?

A: Before they ever transport a single student, the bus driver has:

  • undergone over 70 hours of training.
  • been fingerprinted (criminal background check) and drug tested.
  • taken a DMV road test, followed by a Niskayuna Schools road test.
  • taken a “physical performance test” that tests coordination and strength.
  • had a physical.

After all this, every year they do a Defensive Driving Review, a physical, and two mandated driver “refreshers.” They also are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. Every other year they must take the road test, physical performance test, and written test.

Q: My child tells me that the older kids in the back of the bus are using bad language, and the bus driver does nothing about it. Why doesn’t the driver do something?

A: It is extremely likely that the driver can’t hear what is going on. A bus is a very noisy environment under the best circumstances. It is very hard for the driver to hear what is happening past the first few rows of seats. Drivers are usually made aware of this behavior by the students telling them what is happening.

Q: Another student hit my child, and my child retaliated and hit back. The driver only saw my child, and made him come up front. Is that fair?

A: The driver is charged with transporting students safely. The driver must deal with other motorists as well as picking up or dropping off students. Every time a driver must look to the overhead mirror at the students, their eyes are off the road. Therefore drivers must make snap judgments to keep the peace on a bus. It can also be said that the driver won’t see the first hit, but will see the retaliation, and must act on it. The end result is to get the students home safely and expeditiously. The driver should not get involved in lengthy discussions about who did what. If there is a concern to be addressed, it should be settled in the principal’s office at school.

Snow days/delays:

Q: A one hour delay has just been announced on TV. When will the bus come?

A: One hour later than the regular pick up time. In fairness, however, one or two hour delays usually present their own problems. The bus is supposed to pick up one or two hours later, but delays are usually called because of bad weather, which means more traffic. And since a delay also puts us in the middle of business traffic, the delay may make us later than the expected one or two hours.

Q: How do I know if there’s a closing or delay?

A: The district uses several information vehicles to inform parents and community members when school is closed, delayed, or closing early due to inclement weather and/or other events that warrant a schedule change. It is best to rely on more than one source of information when it comes to weather-related announcements. This is particularly true in situations that involve power outages, which can affect the district’s ability to send electronic notifications.