Frequently Asked Questions

Is student behavior on the bus viewed differently than in the classroom?

No, the standards should be the same. School begins when the bus arrives at the bus stop. The standard or expected behavior for students on a school bus, is that every student will be seated properly and remain seated throughout the bus ride. This standard is necessary to ensure the safety of our students and drivers. Improper student behavior is the number one distraction for school bus drivers and the primary cause for crashes. Your support, in maintaining bus discipline, is critical. School bus drivers will address students displaying improper and/or unsafe behavior and refer repeated offenders to school administration for review/action

Who should I contact about bus issues at my school?

The building principal or assistant principal are the primary people to contact within the school. The Transportation Department can be reached at 565-0808 Option #1.

How will I know bus stop times and where my child will catch the bus?

Students in Special Programs and programs outside our district (i.e. Preschool, Special Needs, Career and Technical, Governor’s School and School of Arts) will receive a call approximately 1-week before school starts with bus stop information. All other students (K-12) can check the division web page for a link to WebQuery by typing their home address in and view their bus stop information for all grade levels.

Who should I contact with transportation questions or concerns?

Call the Transportation Department at 565-0808 Option #1. Most questions can be answered by any staff member however there may be times your comment/concern will be directed to a specific individual.

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Parents are responsible for their own children as they wait for the school bus to arrive in the morning. The school division will become responsible for students once they board the school bus. Parents again assume responsibility for their own children once the student(s) depart the school bus at the assigned school bus stop. Grades 1-12 will be released at the assigned school bus stop, therefore parents/guardians must decide if their presence is required each day to receive their own children.

Kindergarten students are required to have a parent/guardian/older sibling present with them at the school bus stop both mornings and afternoons. If a responsible person is not available to receive the KG student, that student will be returned to their school and the parent/guardian will become responsible to transport them home that day.

What are the travel distances to a school bus stop?

School Board Policy “EEAA” has established the following:

  • Students in grades K-5 can travel up to .5 miles. 
  • Students in grades 6 – 12 can travel up to 1.0 mile.

How is the location of a bus stop determined?

Students’ transportation addresses are used and combined with other students living in a neighborhood/area. We work to create a bus stop or stops to service these students realizing several different criteria:

  • The number of students standing at the stop cannot create a traffic safety concern. 
  • The standing area is typically at an intersection where students can stand on the side-road. 
  • The standing area is large enough to keep students off the main road. 
  • The standing area is typically not in someone’s yard but may be in their driveway. 
  • The area is illuminated to allow motorist to see the waiting students. 
  • The “sex offender” list has been reviewed to prevent students from walking in front of these homes. 
  • Posted speed limits are considered. 
  • I.E.P. requirements are reviewed to determine a need to place a bus stop at near a student’s home.

Can a child be picked up or dropped off at an alternate address?

Yes, but only at “established” school bus stops with a note from the principal to the school bus driver for each request. Each school has a list of established school bus stops. The principal may approve alternative drop offs at any of these established school bus stops with a note to the school bus driver. When the principal approves a request, that a student be dropped off at an alternate location, he or she is assuming the responsibility that this student will be placed on the correct bus and that the proper arrangements have been made at the alternate bus stop to receive this student. Generally, this is a one day approval and is not a permanent change. A permanent change must be approved by Transportation.

What if the bus does not arrive to pick up my child?

Each child should arrive at the school bus stop 5 minutes before the designated pick-up time. Please allow at least 10 minutes after the bus is due at the bus stop before considering it late. Many variables affect the school bus arrival time such as traffic, weather or mechanical breakdown. If the bus does not arrive within 10-15 minutes of the designated time, the parent may call the Pupil Transportation Department (565-0808 Opt #1) for further information. Please provide the following information: (1) the name of the school the child attends, (2) the child’s name, (3) the location of the bus stop, and (4) the run number.

How to request a bus stop location change?

Please use the division web site under Operations/Transportation for a change request form. As you complete the form please indicate why you feel the change is necessary. We will work the change requests as soon as possible so please understand during the beginning of school year we experience an increase in the number of forms and the time to complete the reviews can become lengthy.

Will my child be safe on the school bus?

Yes! School buses are the safest form of transportation in the United States. Your child is much safer in a school bus than in your own car. The school bus is designed for safety. We maintain high safety standards and expectations from our students and drivers. Our drivers maintain excellent driving records in order to serve our students. We are constantly striving to improve safety each and everyday. On a daily basis we transport a very large number of passengers, and accidents (mostly minor) will sometimes occur on school buses just as on other kinds of vehicles.

Will the bus leave the bus stop without my child if she/he is not waiting at the bus stop location?

Possibly yes! The student must be waiting at his/her school bus stop. Remember the bus does not wait for the children. Please have the dressed and waiting at the bus stop. Arriving 5 minutes earlier, than the scheduled pick-up time, at the bus stop will prevent students from missing the school bus.

Will the bus driver honk the horn to let me know the bus is at the bus stop?

No. If the bus driver arrives early at a bus stop, the driver will park at the stop until the departure time and then pull away. The driver will not use the horn to attract attention.

Can I ride the school bus with my child?

No. In general and for liability reasons, the only passengers allowed on a school bus are Williamsburg-James City County school students, bus drivers, bus attendants, and certain other individuals in the performance of school division business.

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Bus stops are placed at centralized locations in the community that can be safely accessed by a significant number of students to minimize the length of the bus run. Also, stop locations give consideration to other students who, over time, will move into or depart the neighborhood. As long as the bus stop is within .5 miles (K-5) and 1.0 mile (6-12) it is within School Board Policy. If you have concerns about your child’s safety you are encouraged to accompany your child to the bus stop or arrange for a neighborhood buddy to travel with your child.

How long may a child be required to ride on a bus?

There are no time limits set by School Board Policy. We attempt to keep bus runs less than 60 minutes. However, there are occasions when this is not practical based on the distances, number of stops, and number of students required to be transported to and from a school. Because of these factors, some bus runs can be in excess of 60 minutes.

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Bus stops are placed in locations where they will provide a safe and convenient location for students while helping us route our buses in the most efficient manner possible. With a 3-tier busing system we have to design and execute our runs in an efficient manner so the buses are able to transport all students to their school on-time and then repeat this process for the other 2 tiers.

I see buses all the time with only a few children on them. What are they doing?

We have many programs within Williamsburg-James City County and the surrounding school divisions that require students to be transported a considerable distance. When transporting students to these special programs the length of the run sometimes makes it impossible to fully utilize the capacity of the school bus. These “light loads” include magnet, alternative education, special education, and vocational programs with limited enrollment. Also, we provide shuttle buses between schools and into the community for limited enrollment programs and support modified school day schedules for some students.

My child has special needs. Who do I contact to make arrangements to get my child picked up?

Contact your child’s school. The school will contact the School Division Special Needs Department and a Case Manager will be assigned for your child. The Case Manager will assist you in determining the appropriate transportation services for your child. Transportation services for special needs children are documented as a component to the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) and these requirements provided to the transportation department.

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Special needs transportation services offer the challenges of frequent transportation changes due to the number of students entering and exiting special needs programs throughout the school year. In many cases the individual student needs are changed by the IEP committees requiring transportation changes. Since the special needs customers share in the use of school buses, a change for one student may impact a route for any other students. When these changes are made, bus drivers notify parents with the new pick up and drop off times. This is a dynamic process, as we seek to make changes as quickly as possible, and at the same time maintain continuity of transportation service for all students involved.

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Our drivers/aides take pride in caring for the students they transport. Due to the Pupil Transportation Department guidelines and for the safety of your child, parents must come to the bus before the special needs student will be allowed off the bus. In the event a responsible adult is not able to receive a special needs students’, the school bus drivers are instructed to return that student to their school.

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Parents are responsible for wheelchair repair.

Will the bus driver transport my child if the wheelchair does not meet standards?

No. Bus drivers are instructed not to transport any wheelchair which does not meet standards. To do such would jeopardize the safety of the student in question.

What happens if my child breaks the bus rules?

The disciplinary consequences on the school bus for inappropriate behavior depend on the infraction. It is important that every student follow the rules for riding a school bus. It is essential that a student not compromise the safety of the school bus, the other passengers or the school bus driver. A school bus is treated the same way as a classroom with respect to disciplinary infractions. In some cases the driver will attempt to correct the situation by assigning seats to certain individuals. In cases where the infraction is significant or repeated, bus drivers will write disciplinary referrals on the student and provide a copy to the school principal for disciplinary review/actions. Please refer to your student’s Rights and Responsibility Handbook for infractions and consequences.

What can be done to improve school bus safety?

Education and knowledge will keep our children safe. Replacing school buses at established intervals will keep the technology current and better serve the driver and students. The children will be safer by knowing and following the bus safety rules. Knowledgeable parents in school bus safety can assist by explaining to their children that they cooperate with the bus driver to ensure a safe ride. The informed public will be aware and comply with the law by not passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing.

Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to accompany their children to and from the bus stop. This is very important as safety is greatly enhanced when students are accompanied at the bus stop.

Why is school bus seats spaced so close together?

The concept is called “compartmentalization” where the space/distance between the student and the seat-back in front of them is much smaller than that found in a car or truck. This reduced space would help protect students in a frontal or rear-end crash by keeping them between two cushioned surfaces and restricting movement.

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Seat belts are not required on school buses because research by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and others determine that compartmentalization was a better solution. Compartmentalization, once it has done the energy-absorbing job in an accident, leaves the student free to escape the bus.

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All new special needs buses are purchased with air condition systems. Converting the rest of the fleet would be very costly and in some cases not financially feasible given the age of some of the buses.

Why are buses sometimes late?

School bus drivers have the same reasons as other motorists for being late. Traffic delays, weather conditions, accidents, mechanical problems or driver/family illness are a few of the reasons. In some cases we have more absent drivers than available substitute drivers to cover for them.

Do I need to stop (in my personal vehicle) for a school bus when its RED lights are flashing in a parking lot or elsewhere?

Yes. Please remember that school buses stop frequently to pick up and drop off children. Use caution. You must stop for a school bus with its red lights on. It is the law.

What is a school bus “Danger Zone”?

The Danger Zone is a 10-foot wide area all around a school bus where children are in the most danger of being hit and injured by the school bus. Children must stay 10-feet away from the bus to be out of the Danger Zone. Children should never go behind the bus. If a student must cross the street they should take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing the street so the driver can see them. When crossing in front of the bus, the student should always remain alert for cars (someone running the red lights). Never approach the bus when it is preparing to stop. Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, and the bus drivers give you the OK, before approaching the school bus.

Why there are never enough school bus drivers to ensure all runs is on-time every day?

Driving a school bus is a demanding job. Each school bus driver must first have a good driving record, pass a criminal background check and complete the Virginia State School Bus Driver Training Course. They must also complete/pass a school bus drivers physical (an annual requirement) and are subject to the Federal Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy. Once all these requirements are satisfied, they begin duties as a school bus driver.

Approximately one-third of all trained school bus drivers quit within their first few years of driving. These are several on the major reasons they leave: some feel the pay is not comparable with the requirements of the job; there are discipline problems on the buses that they are not willing to put-up with; This type work does not allow them to work 8 straight hours.

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There are approximately 40-50 students on each school bus. With a limited staff trying to handle the existing telephone and radio calls it would be all but impossible to call every family.

Consider using:

  1. “Hot Line” was created to update the public on late bus runs each morning and afternoon. The Hot Line number is 757-603-6483.
  2. Twitter, was created to follow Late Bus Announcements each morning and afternoon.
    Go to Twitter.com, create an account if necessary, “follow”: WJCCTier1Buses,
    WJCCTier2Buses and/or WJCCTier3Buses

How do I contact the Pupil Transportation Department?

You may call 757-565-0808 Opt #1 between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for assistance. During shortened school days we may modify these hours to better align with the times the buses are on the road.