Contacting Transportation

Transportation’s phone number is 676-6546.
The Transportation phone system has an answering service that is turned on after hours. Messages to cancel transportation or restart transportation can be left on this system.

Return Home Plan for Young Children

We care about your children and want to ensure that every family has developed a safe “Return Home Plan” from school, whether your child walks, rides the bus, or is picked up.

The safety of your child is our primary concern. Bus drivers will help kindergarteners and other young children learn to ride the bus. It is very important that you or a designated adult be at the bus stop a few minutes before the drop-off time if you plan to greet your child. In the past, children have been returned to school when a parent/guardian is not present at the bus stop. This was a practice that we used when kindergarten was not full-time and there was  midday drop-off. Now that all young children are released at the same time, Transportation is unable to continue this practice because is not possible for bus drivers to track all of the parent/guardian requests for children to be dropped off with siblings, caretakers, friends or other adults. It also requires additional staff time to supervise children when they are returned to school. If the parent/guardian is unable to meet the child at the bus stop for drop-off, it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to train their child what steps to take, such as walking in groups with other children or going to a neighbor’s house.

Bellingham Public Schools is unable to assume responsibility for a child who is dropped off at a designated bus stop after school when a parent/guardian is not present. It is not recommended, implied or otherwise, that kindergarteners or other young children are capable of attending to their own needs for extended periods of time. However, it is up to the parent/guardian to decide the maturity level of their child and to make childcare arrangements when the parent/guardian is unable to meet their child at the bus stop.

Bus Stop Change Request

If you have questions about your bus stop or time, please contact Transportation.

Once established, bus stops will be modified only under the following conditions:

  • Safety concern-conditions at the established bus stop do not meet the bus stop selection criteria as defined by the District guidelines.
  • Property owner complaint – upon receipt of a concern from a resident adjacent or close by an established bus stop; if after working with the students and schools associated with the bus stop the concern cannot be resolved a relocation of the stop will be considered.
  • Students who do not use their assigned school bus may have their bus stop removed when doing so will result in reduced operating cost. Prior to a bus stop being removed, parents/guardians will be advised of the plan to remove the stop from service. Parents/guardians will be able to request reinstatement at a later date. Service will be restored within 5 working days of the request.
Service Standards

Eligibility for bus transportation is based on the following:
1.0 mile radius from the school they attend. Exceptions are allowed in the following areas:

  • Students residing in designated safety areas.
  • Special Education students who are not ambulatory and/or who are not capable of protecting their own welfare while traveling to and from school as determined by their Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.)
Assigned Bus Stop and Pick Up Time

Each student is assigned one stop. This is their primary stop that drivers will pick the student up at and drop them off at. The stop the student uses in the morning can be different from the stop they use in the afternoon.

Late Bus
Drivers will run routes as scheduled. However, due to traffic and other unforeseen circumstances buses could run behind and or have mechanical problems. Students should remain at the stop for a minimum of 20 minutes if a bus is late. Once a problem is identified a new bus will be dispatched to finish the route or make up time.

Missed Bus
Buses stop at assigned stops when students are present. Buses will stop at an empty stop if the bus is early. If your student is not at the bus stop at the prescribed time and misses the bus, you will have to provide your own transportation. Buses will not be turned around to pick up a missed stop.

What Can I Bring On The Bus?

Updated Spring 2021:

On our buses, the safe transportation of students to and from school and activities is our number one priority. We abide by state law and Washington State Patrol guidelines, while also working to accommodate students’ needs for their classes and activities at school as much as we can. This document is to assist you in what we can transport on the school bus to and from school.

The following items are OK to bring on the bus; we ask students to keep them on their lap or held securely between their legs, or next to them by the window:

  • Backpacks, lunch boxes and other items, such as school projects.
  • Oversized items, such as musical instruments in their cases, smaller than 36” x 10” by 8” . For example: violins or flutes.

If you have a question about whether your large item can be transported on the bus, please call Transportation at 360-676-6546

When space is available, it is also OK to transport these items if the case is suitable to be inside the school bus:

  • French horns
  • 3/4 size or smaller cellos.
  • Acoustic, electric or bass guitars
  • Baritone horns

This list may not be a complete list of what we can transport. We may ask a student to register an oversized and bulky item with transportation to verify the bus and student count can accommodate transporting the item.

These items may be transported on the bus, but must be enclosed in a backpack or duffle bag at all times:

  • Skateboards, scooters or inline skates
  • Baseball bats and other sports equipment such as lacrosse sticks
  • Sports balls
  • For safety reasons such as allergies: highly-scented items such as deodorant, cologne or perfume.

Please do not bring these on the bus:

  • Weapons or firearms
  • Flammable materials
  • Extra-large musical instruments like tubas and full-size cellos.
  • Animals or plant life of any type
  • Kites
  • Balloons / helium balloons
  • Breakable containers
  • Skis and ski poles
  • Vaulting poles

If you have any questions about whether an item can be transported on the bus, please call transportation at 360-676-6546.

Cancel/Stop/Resume Special Transportation

When canceling Special Transportation identify the student, bus #, and what portion of the transportation you are canceling (AM only, AM and PM, PM only)

In case of prolonged sickness or recovery Transportation can be put on hold until further notice at the request of a parent. Special transportation will be put on hold if there is no phone call and no pick up after three (3) days.

Seating Capacity

The basic seating guideline for the District is: for students from Kindergarten through grade 5, three students to a standard (30 inch width) seat; for grade 6 through 12, two to a seat: allowances, depending on student size and seating space are granted. No standees are permitted on school buses. Drivers will not overload a bus. If an overload exists an additional bus will be dispatched.

Seating Assignments

Drivers will separate students by grade level. Younger students will ride in the front and older students will ride in the back of the bus whenever populations are combined. If an older sibling wishes to sit with younger sibling they will sit in the younger section. Students that have demonstrated poor behavior can be assigned a seat temporarily or permanently.

One-Way Ride Time

All routes will be designed to operate 60 minutes or less where feasible. Ride time is defined as the time the first student boards the bus until the bus arrives at school in the A.M. or in the P.M., the time the bus leaves the school until the last student is dropped off the bus. (Feasible means ride time for 90% of a given route’s population shall not exceed the time standards.)

Stop Variance

Stop variance slips can be issued by the school only.

A letter granting permission for your student to use a different stop should be given to the school. We are happy to honor a different stop provided we have a seat available on the bus.

The school will issue a variance slip to your student on a space available basis that will be given to the driver. These slips are good for one trip.

Parents Riding the Bus

Parents or Guardians can ride the bus as chaperones on approved trips. Parents are not authorized to ride on regular routes unless the Superintendent grants permission.

Visiting Students

Students that do not usually ride the bus can use Stop Variance slips to ride home with a friend. This is granted on a space available basis and will be the first removed from the bus in the case of an overflow.

Homeless Students

Transportation will be provided to homeless students per district policy. Whenever possible the transportation will be on a normal established route. Other options available to homeless students include:

  • In-Lieu-of payment: The Transportation Department will pay parents to drive their student to and from school.
  • Public Transportation: The Transportation Department will issue monthly bus passes to students.
  • Special Transportation: A space will be made available on a special service bus to transport the student to school.

Rae Anne Thon

Cheri Wolf
Admin. Assistant