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Transportation

Seattle Public Schools Transportation Department

The Seattle Public Schools Transportation Department arranges transportation services for a variety of students attending Seattle Public Schools and Head Start.

Requests and Inquiries at the Start of the Year

Our office will be experiencing higher than normal call volumes as we receive requests and alterations from families, other SPS departments, and schools. This usually lasts for several weeks, but may last longer as the strike prevented most work on requests.

Your patience as our staff process requests is greatly appreciated.


Arrival/Departure Times and Transportation Service Standards

The Arrival/Departure times document contains information regarding the start and end times for schools, as well as the targeted arrival and departure times for buses serving those locations.

The Transportation Service Standards include information about who is eligible for transportation services and what kind of service they could be eligible for. There is also information about bus stop placement, conditions for changing a bus stop location, and the use of an alternate address.


Employment Opportunities

The Transportation Department is looking for Hourly Bus Monitors and Crossing Guards. Read more about our job opportunities!

Please contact Transportation transdept@seattleschools.org for further information.


Group of students walking to North Beach Elementary

Walk, Bike, and Roll to School

About 1/3 of Seattle Public School students walk or bike to school most days! View resources to support more students to walk, bike, and roll.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I contact Transportation?

Seattle Public Schools Transportation Department can be reached in the following ways:

Email: transdept@seattleschools.org
Phone: 206-252-0900

Mail:
Seattle Public Schools
Transportation Department
PO BOX 34165
MS 23-169
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Please include your student’s name, student ID number and how we may contact you.

PLEASE NOTE: Seattle Public Schools Transportation Department receives the highest volume of calls when school buses are providing service, between 7-10 a.m. and 2-5 p.m.

Is my student eligible for transportation?

A student’s eligibility for transportation is determined based on the following factors:

  • Grade Level
    • Elementary and K-8 school sites have a 1-mile walk boundary. Eligible students are provided service primarily on yellow school buses.
    • Middle school sites have a 2-mile walk boundary. Usually yellow school bus.
      • If the student’s assignment address is within the attendance area, AND outside of the 2-mile walk boundary, the student is eligible for district arranged transportation (usually yellow bus service).
      • If the student’s assignment address within the attendance area, AND inside of the walk boundary, they are not eligible for transportation.
        • (Note: In the 2019-20 Transportation Service Standards, “Middle School Students (other than those that attend Aki Kurose or Jane Addams) who live more than 1.5 miles but less than 2 miles from their attendance area school receive ORCA cards as an exception to normal middle school eligibility standards.)
    • High school sites have a 2-mile walk boundary.
      • In general students in high school are not eligible for transportation and needs are met via public transportation.
      • There are supplemental shuttles for high school sites with limited metro service. Stops and times can be found at the shuttles page.
  • School/Program
    • Transportation service at attendance area schools is limited to their attendance area boundary.
    • Transportation service at Option schools are usually limited to the Middle School attendance area in which they are geographically located.
    • If a student is placed in a program that is not available at the attendance area school, then transportation is usually provided in alignment with the Linked Schools Charts.
    • Choice assignments are not eligible for transportation.

Additional information about transportation eligibility can be found in the Transportation Service Standards, which are located on the main transportation webpage.

If there are additional questions/inquires about transportation eligibility please contact the Seattle Public Schools transportation office.

What should I do if my student’s bus is late?

Drivers plan to run routes as scheduled. However, it is possible for delays to occur due to traffic, weather, construction and other circumstances.

When the bus is late, we recommend that your student stay at the busstop location. The bus, or a replacement bus will complete the route assoon as possible and you may miss the bus if you are not at the stop.Families should create a plan with their student in the event that thebus is late.

To get an update on the status of your student’s route, check the delayed bus information page on the transportation website. You may also contact transportation at 206-252-0900.

Can I/my student change to a different bus route/bus stop?

Students may have one bus stop in the morning and one bus stop in the afternoon. If you are requesting a stop change for a daycare or alternate address you will need to contact the transportation office and provide the following information:

  • Complete daycare/alternate address
  • Name of the person responsible for your student
  • A phone number that person can be reached at
  • Your student’s name, student ID number and your contact information

Normal processing for a stop change request could take up to two weeks. Additional processing time should be expected during the start of the school year due to the high volume of requests. If you are requesting a different bus route or different stop location you will need to contact the transportation office and request your preferred bus/bus stop. Plan on providing a brief explanation for why you are requesting the change.

Your request will be checked against safety guidelines and the Transportation Service Standards.

Responses to requests are usually answered through the mail with a new assignment or a denial letter explaining the reasons for the decision.

I have a complaint regarding my student’s bus driver/bus service. What do I do?

To report a complaint, you should contact the transportation office by email transdept@seattleschools.org or 206-252-0900.

Be prepared to report the following information:

  • Bus route, date/time that the incident occurred
  • Explanation of the incident

If you would like a response to the investigation, you will need to leave your name and contact information.

Do I have to be at the bus stop in order for the bus driver to let my child off the bus?

For general education students in grades K- 12, parents do not have to be at the bus stop for their child to be let off the bus. However, we encourage all parents/guardians to have a plan in place so that their student arrives home safely.

Special education students in Pre-K and kindergarten must be met at their bus stop location in the afternoon.

Special education students in grades first through 12th must be met at their bus stop location, unless their parent/guardian has turned in the release of responsibility form which gives permission for their student to get off the bus without someone present. The release of responsibility form is available from your student’s bus driver.

If a special education student cannot be dropped off because someone was not there for them, or a general education student was uncomfortable getting off the bus without someone there to meet them, the following will occur:

  • The bus driver will contact their dispatcher to let them know that they have a student who cannot/will not get off the bus and in most cases, continue on their route to deliver any other students still on the bus.
  • The dispatcher will alert transportation staff, who will attempt to contact the parent/guardian.
    • If the parent/guardian can be reached, arrangements will be made to connect the student to their parent/guardian.
    • If the parent/guardian cannot be reached, all other emergency contacts will be attempted.
    • In the event that no one can be reached, the student will either be returned to school and placed in the care of the school staff, or brought to the nearest police precinct. The parent/guardian will be responsible for picking their student up.

Is my alternative/daycare eligible for transportation?

Alternative/daycare addresses must also meet eligibility guidelines set by the Transportation Service Standards.

Each student’s transportation has been established using the home or alternate/daycare address currently in our records.

If you are requesting a change to your current service address, you will need to email the transportation office at transdept@seattleschools.org.

Required information includes the following:

  • Complete daycare/alternate address
  • Name of the person responsible for your student
  • A phone number that person can be reached at
  • Your student’s name, student ID number and contact information that you can be reached at

Responses to requests are usually answered through the mail with anew assignment or a denial letter explaining the reasons for the decision.

Can I get an ORCA card for my student?

A new state wide program is allowing youth (under the age of 19) to ride public transit for free. This means that ORCA cards are no longer being provided through Seattle Public Schools. For 2022-23 school year we did assist with and initial distribution for students who did not already have an ORCA card assigned to them.

New requests will need to be sent through the myORCA webpage.

Please visit our ORCA card page for current ORCA card information.

I had a bus last year. Why don’t I get a bus this year?

There are a number of reasons why transportation service for you/your student may have changed.

Each year, there are ongoing modifications to school assignment boundaries and several building relocations as schools are renovated. These modifications will impact the transportation being provided.

In some cases, students who had specialized transportation services included their IEP before may no longer require the same level of service they were being provided during the previous school year.

Can I change my student’s drop off bus stop for a day to go to a friend’s house?

Yes, your student may ride home with another student who is assigned to a bus route. A temporary transportation pass (yellow card) can be obtained through your student’s school. Most schools require a signed note from the parent/guardian giving permission for their student to ride the bus to another stop location. You will need to obtain the bus number and stop location.

When will my student’s bus route arrive at school in the morning?

Buses routes are planned so that students arrive 15 minutes prior to school. The goal is to have buses arrive at the school with at least 10 minutes for breakfast before school starts.

Does the transportation office have a plan for inclement weather?

Yes. The Transportation Department develops snow routes to respond to ice and snow events, and collaborates closely with the City of Seattle Department of Transportation to ensure a coordinated response during these events. See the inclement weather transportation plan for details. (Update in November)

My child was already riding a bus to school- why are they being switched to a van? 

Seattle Public Schools and our transportation partner, First Student, have fewer licensed school bus drivers (with a commercial driver’s license) than necessary to serve all the transportation eligible students. Currently Seattle Public Schools is serving some of our students on small buses with very few students on them. By switching these routes to vans, instead of school buses, they can be driven by qualified drivers with a regular license rather than a commercial driver’s license. This will allow one of the school bus drivers to switch to a larger bus and a route serving more students and increase service throughout the district. 

Who is ‘Zūm’ and why are they driving my child? 

Seattle Public Schools is partnering with Zūm to provide van transportation for students. In the last 2 years, Zūm has successfully delivered over 21,000 safe rides for more than 500 students in Seattle Public Schools. Zūm partners with over 250 school districts across the county and has been a transportation partner for Seattle Public Schools since 2019.  Zūm drivers are vetted to transport students, including background checks and vaccine verification. Zūm also offers a parent app where parents can view their child’s driver and vehicle, cancel a ride, track the ride and receive pick-up/drop-off notifications. 

Are Zūm van drivers vaccinated against COVID? 

Yes. All Zūm drivers transporting students on behalf of Seattle Public Schools are fully vaccinated.

Can I request a different driver if I’m uncomfortable with the driver assigned to my child’s route? 

Unfortunately Seattle Public Schools can’t accommodate individual driver requests. Some families may feel uncomfortable with drivers of a particular gender or religion but SPS is unable to change drivers or routes based on these preferences. 

There may be some families with extenuating circumstances that require a different driver. If you feel that your family has an extenuating circumstance please email transdept@seattleschools.org or call the transportation department at 206-252-0900 to explain the situation. Please include as much information as possible so we can fully understand the circumstances and attach any necessary supporting documents. 

This van is a lot smaller than a school bus and there isn’t much room for distancing, what are the COVID safety protocols? 

Zūm drivers are fully vaccinated and required to wear masks. Vans are disinfected daily and in-between routes. 

Seattle Public Schools doesn’t have a social distancing requirement for school transportation. Even though vans are smaller than school buses, driving students in vans is consistent with the Seattle Public Schools COVID-19 safety protocols for transportation. You can read more about the COVID-19 safety protocols for transportation on page 36 of the 2021 school operations handbook. Anyone who has been in close contact (within 6 feet) of someone with COVID-19 is subject to quarantine. SPS and Zūm carefully track which students are served on vans daily so we can contact families about any potential exposures. 

My child needs a booster seat to ride in a van, what should I do? 

Zūm automatically provides booster seats for any students in 1st grade or lower and parents with older students can request a booster seat for their child through the Zūm app. If your child is 4’9” or shorter, please use the Zūm app to request a booster seat! 

Recent Transportation Announcements

Graphic of a cloud with rain falling, there is an exclamation point in the cloud

Weather Alert Reminders

If weather conditions make a schedule change necessary, the district will communicate the decision in several ways.

A parent watches at their student boards the school bus.

Safe and Successful Start of School for Student Transportation

All bus routes are up and running for the school year!


Photo by Marcelo Cidrack on Unsplash