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School Bus Transportation: The Importance of Signing Up

05 August 2019
Ian Thompson/CREW

(HCS) - A record-breaking 8,000+students have signed up for bus transportation ahead of the 2019-2020 School Year.

This includes transportation to 17 different schools - including the district’s newest school, RC3.  Jeremy Bradford, Coordinator of Transportation, knows of the great responsibility involved. As the student transport population swells, Bradford emphasized the importance of households signing their child(ren) up for transportation, if needed.

“It is very important so we can build a route correctly based on projected numbers. If we have too many children on a bus, we have to send a second bus. Much better to know in advance,” Bradford said.  “We might need to add new routes; adjust stops and times on existing routes. We want to have the very latest information to best serve the students.”

Adding routes, staffing for new drivers, etc. proves no easy task.  Accurate ridership information helps transportation leaders avoid overcrowded buses and inaccurate stops.  Even if a household anticipates only a minimum number of bus rides per school year, the household is encouraged to check “yes” on transportation during the online registration process - or let their school know.

school bus - kid getting off at berry middle school Students living within a two-mile radius of school are ineligible for transportation (exceptions exist).  Current bus information can easily be checked by putting in your address and the grade of your child into the Edulog system, which also shows street views of stops.

“Our drivers are invested in the success of the students and care deeply about the experience of our students,” Bradford said. “They have spent a lot of time training, going through professional development and are great employees. They are knowledgeable, caring individuals, driving great equipment, and are backed by top-notch technicians.”

The HCS Transportation Department historically has received superior ratings on its annual bus inspection from the Alabama State Department of Education/Pupil Services Section.  When viewed through the data lens, the HCS transportation numbers seem staggering.

Last year, more than 800,000 route miles were driven, with another 90,000 for field trips and athletic trips.  At the end of the 2018-19 School Year, there were 134 routes, with 36 of them double routes. On average, 6,200 students were transported daily by 128 drivers.

Bradford noted transportation had a $5 million annual budget, with 182 total employees comprised of drivers, aides, two shop foreman, eight state-certified mechanics, shop assistant, route supervisor, route specialist, two secretaries, and a school bus trainer, all of whom report to him.  The staff maintains a fleet of 170 buses (special-needs, spares, and trainers).

“The good news is that the state legislature has approved (school bus transportation) at 100 percent funding. Previous years, we were at 82 percent,” Bradford noted.

The HCS Transportation Department always looks for qualified, motivated bus drivers.

“As the student population grows and as more neighborhoods come on board we will be adding more routes and thus need more drivers. This, along with retirements and natural attrition, means we are always looking for drivers.”

Drivers and aides are full-time employees, who are contracted to work four hours a day.  Visit the HCS Transportation page for additional details.