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Student Transportation Overview
It is the vision of the Bethlehem Central School District Student Transportation Department to serve as the model student transportation program for the Capital Region and New York State. This will be achieved through student focused, standards based student transportation services which enriches the lives of our students, schools and communities we serve.
It is the mission of the Bethlehem Central School District Student Transportation Department to support the academic achievement of students by providing safe and secure transportation services to and from instructional programs and extra-curricular activities.
What We Do
Student transportation safety is shared responsibility between the Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education (BOE), New York State Education Department (SED), New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and New York State Department of Transportation (DOT). Our BOE is responsible for establishing student transportation eligibility, policy, and employment of staff. SED oversee school bus driver/attendant training curriculum and certification. DMV oversee the licensing of school bus drivers. Lastly, DOT oversee school bus specifications and periodic school bus safety inspections.
The Bethlehem Central School District Student Transportation Department administers the student transportation safety program for the BOE. The BC Student Transportation Department is responsible for managing professional bus drivers, bus attendants, mechanics, and administrative staff responsible for the safe transport of our BC students daily. The BC Student Transportation Department also oversees school bus routes, training of bus drivers/attendants and maintenance of the school bus fleet.
The BC Student Transportation Department operates a fleet of 130 school buses and 5 support vehicles. Daily BC school buses cover 140 individual bus routes safely transporting students to and from our seven (7) school buildings and 28 out of district school locations throughout 380 square miles of the NYS Capital Region. Our school buses average 4,500 miles daily adding up to 810,000 miles annually.
All school buses operated by the BC Student Transportation Department are equipped with two-way radios, video cameras, and GPS tracking systems. These tools provide constant communication, audio/video surveillance, and real-time location tracking to ensure the safety and security of our BC students.
The Bethlehem Central School District provides transportation to and from schools for the following resident students:
- All elementary students
- Middle School students who live more than a half mile from school.
- High School students who live more than a mile from school.
- Resident students who attend private and parochial schools within 15 miles of their homes.
Elementary School Boundaries
Students in grades K – 5 attend one of our five neighborhood elementary schools based upon their home address on file with the district registrar. If you have questions about which elementary school your child(ren) will attend based on your address, please contact Registrar Melissa Haas at 518-439-2442. School building boundaries can also be found by clicking this link.
Bus Stop Assignments
Bus routes are established by the BC Student Transportation Department to provide transportation in the safest, most efficient, and cost-effective manner possible.
For eligible students on regularly scheduled in-district bus routes, to the extent that resources allow, scheduled travel time should not exceed one (1) hour either to or from school. Eligible students on regularly scheduled out-of-district routes, based on the home address, and the location of the school of attendance, the bus ride could exceed one (1) hour. The NYS Commissioner of Education has held, in Judicial Decisions, that a trip of one and one-half (1 1/2) hours, in particular situations, was not unreasonable.
Transportation will not be provided on private roads that have not been dedicated and/or maintained by town, county, and/or state highway departments. No road will be included on a bus route that is not suitable for bus travel due to size, incline, surface, or lack of normal road maintenance. No route will be designed to cross an unguarded railroad crossing.
Families are notified of bus stops and approximate pick-up and drop-off times by logging into the ASPEN Parent Portal. This information is made available in August. Alternate transportation schedules are also available in the ASPEN Parent Portal. Families of students receiving student transportation to eligible non-public and public charter schools are notified of bus stops and approximate pick-up and drop-off times by mail in August. The assigned route driver/attendant for extended school year (ESY) programs will notify families of bus schedules prior to the first day of the program.
The BC Student Transportation Department will establish centralized bus stops at locations where eligible students can wait for, load and unload the school bus with reasonable safety. Stops along as designated will be at intervals of no less than one (0.1) tenth of a mile unless a condition exits, as determined by the student transportation department, that impacts safety or exceeds the maximum walking distance. Factors considered in establishing bus stops may include but not be limited to the following: sight distance at the stop, existing road and traffic conditions, history of existing stops, etc.
We recognize that not all streets have sidewalks, some roads are curved, and some streets are narrower than others. Sometimes you might not be able to see your child from your home. There is no requirement in law that entitles students to door-to-door transportation. No accommodations will be made for eligible students requesting a drop off at a house on the route. We are responsible to create bus stops that are appropriate and consistent with BOE policy, and to do our utmost to provide a safe ride to and from school.
It is not possible for all students to travel an equal distance to and from the designated bus stop. A natural consequence of safe, efficient, and economical routing of school buses is that some children will travel greater distances than others in traveling to and from bus stops. Eligible students will not be asked to walk a greater distance to or from their regular assigned bus stop than the maximum distance established by the BOE for the grade level unless a condition exits, as determined by the student transportation department, that impacts safety. The BOE established walking distances are:
- Grade K-5 is up to 1/10 of a mile from home to the bus stop.
- Grades 6-8 is up to 1/2 of a mile from home to the bus stop.
- Grades 9-12 is up to one mile from home to the bus stop.
The safety of eligible students traveling to and from bus stops is the responsibility of the parent or guardian. Parents/guardian are responsible for the supervision and conduct of their children at the bus stop.
Eligible students will only be allowed to board or be discharged from a school bus at their designated bus stop. Buses will not stop for pick up or drop off except at the assigned stop. Families may complete a request to have their student picked-up and/or dropped off at an alternate address to include approved child care centers. Transportation is not provided to/from places of business. School buses will not go off route without prior approval from the dispatcher or immediate supervisor.
Eligible students should be at their designated bus stop at least five (5) minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time. Bus routes are considered late five (5) minutes after the scheduled pick-up and drop-off time. Drivers will strive to maintain a consistent schedule. However, variations in student pick up and drop off times due to daily changes in ridership, road construction, weather conditions, late bus ridership, etc., are understandable and acceptable.
Bus Stop Changes
We know that no one is more familiar with your particular neighborhood than you are. If as you consider your child’s bus stop, if you have a concern, please bring it to our attention. If we can make an improvement in the stop location that is still consistent with our guidelines, we will be happy to evaluate your request. Remember though, that sometimes a change that might be ideal for your child will negatively affect a larger group of students, or will require the creation of an additional stop, which is not consistent with the broader goal of centralizing bus stops. When stops are originally established, the District looks collectively at what works best in a particular section of a route, for the group of students in that neighborhood.
While all requests will be reviewed and investigated, NYS Education Law states that changes may not be based upon the “personal challenges facing individual parents.” Stops cannot be changed for these reasons.
Parents/guardians may complete this form to submit a bus stop change request [PDF]. Forms may be faxed or emailed to our office. Please allow up to 10 business days for a response. August and September are the times that our volume of calls and e-mails are particularly heavy. It may be up to 20 business days before you may receive a response.
Bell Time Reports
School Bus Consultants completed two reports regarding the Transportation Department, its routing, fleet and bell time options at the high school.
Student School Bus Transportation
New students and existing students must be registered to ride the bus. Please click this link for more information on the school bus registration process.
Families must keep address information current for school bus registration. If your address changes during the school year or over the summer, please call the district registrar at 518-439-2442. Address changes will be reflected in the transportation system 24 hours after it is changed with the district registrar.
Special Transportation Arrangements
Parents/Guardians may make special transportation arrangements for children if they attend private/parochial school and/or if they must be dropped off at an address other than their home address (e.g., child care provider, alternating between parents/guardians).
Private/parochial transportation requests must completed each year and submitted in writing to the Transportation Department by April 1.
All other requests must be received in writing no later than August 1 and changes must be received no later than August 15.
- Special Transportation Request Form [PDF]
- Private/parochial school transportation request form [PDF]
- Permission for others to receive student(s) at bus stop [PDF]
Shared Custody Transportation
In 2020-21, the Bethlehem Central School District suspended its longtime practice of allowing families to designate more than one pick-up or drop-off location during the week. The move helped the district reduce the mixing of cohorts as a COVID mitigation protocol, allowed standard seating charts for contact tracing, and facilitated tracking of students by the drivers.
This change in practice has been extended into the current school year, 2021-22, in response to the ongoing and critical bus driver shortage.
The district understands that this change can create additional challenges for families with shared parental custody. To help better meet the needs of these families without creating additional strain on bus transportation, the district has developed a secondary drop-off/pick-up option available to families who share parental custody. This plan would allow families to designate a bus stop location that is mutually agreed upon by both parties. This could be a relative’s house, a licensed day care, or a bus stop located between parents’ primary residences. Families who are interested in designating an alternate bus stop for their child would have to file a formal application and work with the Transportation Department to identify an appropriate plan for their child.
If you plan to request an alternate bus stop for your child, please keep in the mind the following:
- One parent must be designated as the primary contact for transportation arrangements.
- Split custody parents must mutually agree on a single bus stop location.
- Split custody transportation request form must be submitted and be signed by both parents.
- Request form must be submitted annually by August 15 or as soon as possible if family circumstances change during the school year. No changes will be implemented from August 15 through the third Monday of September.
- The request must be renewed every school year and/or whenever there is a change in arrangements.
- If the bus stop location is a relative’s house or licensed day care within current bus stop walking guideline, then no additional coordination is needed.
- For locations other than a relative’s house or licensed day care, the primary contact will work with the student transportation department to select a bus stop along a route for the student school of attendance. Unless the student is in kindergarten or adult to adult handoff is specified in the IEP, the bus will not wait for someone to pick up the student before departing.
- The student transportation department will verify the location as appropriate and within the school zone. No cross elementary school zone transportation will be provided unless a licensed day care. Bus stop locations selected cannot be located outside the boundaries of the District. Places of employment cannot be used as bus stops.
- Transportation assignment will be made within 48 hours of confirmation of the mutually agreed bus stop location.
If you have questions regarding the information above, please email the Transportation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the start of each school year, please review the safety tips, rules and procedures outlined below with all students and drivers in your family, and encourage everyone to follow them. Some of these – such as stopping when encountering a school bus with flashing red lights (whether you are on the road or in a school parking lot) and obeying school zone speed limits – are state laws. They were established for the safety of everyone on the roads, especially our children!
Parents of kindergartners and students new to the school district’s bus transportation will want to review important information about safety and behavior expectations on the school bus with the BCSD Transportation Parent Primer.
Members of the Transportation’s B.E.A. Team have created a video highlighting all of the important safety rules for BC students who ride the bus. Geared toward elementary students, the video goes over all of the rules when waiting for, riding and getting off the bus. For 2020-21, there are important COVID-19 safety reminders.
Carefully review your child’s bus route to determine if the bus will pick up your child on the home side of the street or on the other side of the street.
Children should not cross the street to board the school bus if not required to do so. If the designated bus stop requires your child to cross the street, follow the crossing procedures outlined here. Remember, your child should remain on the home side of the street until the bus stops completely. Your child should never cross the street until the bus driver gives the signal that it is safe to cross.
Students should arrive at the stop at least five (5) minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
Bus Riders’ Responsibilities
Know the BC School Bus Rules:
- Listen to your driver
- Keep your hands to yourself
- Stay in your seat
- Shh… use your inside voice
Before the ride:
- Put loose articles – homework, books, pens and pencils – in a backpack.
- If you need to transport an item too large to fit on your lap, make other arrangements to get to school that day.
- Arrive at the bus stop at least five (5) minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. DO NOT wait inside your home, then run out to the bus.
- Do not rough house at the stop.
- Wait until the bus has stopped completely and its door is open before approaching it.
- Waiting for the signal to cross. The student should make sure they can see the driver’s face and the bus driver can see the student. When all is clear, the driver will signal to the student that it is OK to cross, but as a precaution, the student should always look both ways before crossing.
- The horn warns of danger. If the driver blows the bus horn, the student should immediately return to the starting point.
- Use the handrail
- Do not bring large, sharp, or breakable items on the bus
- Don’t carry awkward loads – use a backpack or book bag to keep stuff together
- Sit down immediately, stay seated
During the ride:
- Listen to any instructions from the bus driver – he/she is there to prevent injury to you and others.
- Remain seated properly throughout the bus ride
- No skateboards, animals, flammable materials of any kind, or medications that contain controlled substances may be transported on a school bus. The driver will not allow any of these items on the bus.
- Weapons of any kind and threatening gestures and/or comments will NOT be tolerated on the bus. A violation may result in a five-day suspension and a Superintendent’s Hearing with the possibility of more serious consequences. In accordance with the Gun Free Schools Act (1994), possession of guns on buses or school property could result in at least a one-year suspension.
- Behave on the bus as you are expected to behave in class. Be courteous; don’t use profane language.
- Eating, drinking and smoking on the bus will NOT be tolerated.
- Keep the bus clean; whatever you bring on the bus must leave with you.
- Don’t damage the bus – it’s school district property.
- Cooperate with the bus driver, who is authorized to assign seats.
- Fighting, pushing and shoving will NOT be tolerated.
- Keep head, hands and feet inside the bus at all times.
- STAY IN YOUR SEAT, especially when the bus is moving.
- All BC school buses are equipped with seat belts. All students are encouraged to use them.
- Check before you step
- Move away from the bus right away
- Crossers get off the bus first. When discharging passengers, the school bus driver will discharge the crossers first. Once they have safely crossed to the other side of the street, the bus driver will discharge non-crossers.
- Waiting for the signal to cross. The student getting off the bus should walk ten (10) giant steps ahead of the bus until you can see the driver’s face and the bus driver can see the student. When all is clear, the driver will signal to the student that it is OK to cross, but as a precaution, the student should always look both ways before crossing.
- Stop and wait for the signal to cross again. The student should cross to the outside edge of the bus and wait for the signal from the driver. Make sure all traffic is stopped. If clear, cross quickly.
- The horn warns of danger. If the driver blows the bus horn, the student should return immediately to the starting point.
- When parents meet the bus. Parents meeting the bus should wait on the side of the road where the child will be getting off and then follow the above procedures for crossing. Parents need to discourage their children from running across the road to greet them.
- Go directly home
Drive slowly on roadways that pass parks and playing fields, and be on the lookout for children on bikes and for pedestrians. Don’t assume they see you.
Make sure they see you before you proceed through intersections or pull out from driveways or parking lots.
Flashing yellow lights warn that the bus is about to stop, so slow down and prepare to stop. Children may be coming from any direction.
STOP – as outlined in state law – when encountering a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. The bus is either picking up or discharging riders. Proceed only when the red lights are turned off and the bus is moving again, unless waved on by the bus driver or a police officer.
Any vehicle that passes a school bus that has its flashing red lights activated will be reported to the police and/or New York State DMV.
Be aware that school buses may not turn right on red.
Remember to use sidewalks and marked crosswalks when they are available. When sidewalks aren’t available, always walk on the left side of the road facing traffic and as far from the road as possible. When crossing a street, cross only at intersections and look left, right, and then left again before proceeding across.
Operation Safe Stop
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) is advocating and educating communities about bus stop safety. It is reported that about 50,000 times each day, in New York State alone, motorists pass school buses when the bus has flashing red lights engaged. Despite these occurrences, school buses are still by far the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school.
Please take the time to read about bus stop safety to keep the students in our community safe on our school buses:
What’s Allowed on a Bus
All of the items that a child brings to school should be packed in a carrying case, such as a tote bag or backpack, which must be small enough to be held on the student’s lap. Students on a school bus may not transport large items and food for class parties.
New York State Department of Transportation and federal regulations prohibit bringing large items and musical instruments on school buses (NYSDOT Regulations Section 721.22). This prohibition is designed to prevent the blockage of seats and aisles in the event of an accident.
The following is a partial list of what is allowed on the bus, if it is able to be held on the lap of the student:
- soprano clarinet
- snare drum
- alto saxophone
- french horn
Large items that cannot fit on a student’s lap are not allowed on the bus. These include, but are not limited to:
- alto clarinet
- bass clarinet
- contra bass clarinet
- baritone saxophone
- tenor saxophone
- baritone horn
- string bass
- large school projects
- fishing poles
- hockey sticks
- skis and poles
- some lacrosse sticks (offensive sticks are allowed, longer defensive and goalie stick are not)
Placing large items on the floor of the bus and holding them in between the legs is not permissible.
Other items not allowed on the bus include, but are not limited to:
- weapons (real or play)
- pets or any live or preserved animals
- glass containers
- aerosol cans
- coloring paints
- play putty or other arts-and-crafts items
- especially sharp objects or objects with points
These items are examples that can be used as weapons that cause injuries to passengers or that may be used to deface the interior of a school bus.
The wearing of cleats aboard a school bus is also prohibited. Cleats can damage the interior of the bus and they also create an unsafe (they can be slippery on wet surfaces) condition for our athlete students.
Your assistance and cooperation is important to the district as we ensure a safe and efficient transportation experience for our students.
If you have any questions regarding this policy, you may reach the Transportation Department by phone (518-439-3830) or by e-mail (email@example.com).
State law requires that all school buses turn off their engines when loading or unloading students on school grounds, except when necessary for heating, mechanical, or emergency reasons. The non-idling requirement applies to other school vehicles as well.