Frequently Asked Questions

The following information is provided as a guide to some of the most frequently asked questions about school bus transportation. Visit other sections of this Web site to learn more about school buses, school bus safety and school transportation. 

Do You Know…?

What happens to student's belongings left on the bus?  Top
They will be taken to the dispatch office at the satellite yard of that bus. Call the appropriate bus satellite, and arrange to pick up the item(s).

What should a regular education student do to get off at a different stop?  Top
The student must have a note from the parent and must be approved by the school. This ensures the safety and well being of that student.

What time should my child arrive at the morning bus stop?  Top
Students are asked to be at their designated bus stop location at least 10 minutes prior to scheduled pick-up time.

Can parents ride the bus with their child?  Top
No, parents may not ride the school bus except for field trips as a school approved chaperone. There are exceptions for preschoolers and special-needs students on a case by case basis.

How are bus stops determined?  Top
Stops are assigned by the general location of students and must meet state regulations for safety. Typical stop locations are within subdivisions near parks, common walls and retention areas. Stops must be at least 50 feet from a signed intersection and 100 feet from an intersection with traffic control signals. Note: Stops will not be changed during the first four weeks of school.

Can my child ride home on another bus?  Top
Due to limited space and for safety and security reasons, only eligible students may ride their assigned bus. Any request for an exception for a specific day, must be made in writing, by the parent to the school administrator, who in turn may grant the request for that date on an alternate bus from that school. There must be space available on that bus route. The principal must notify the driver in writing, who in turn will give the request to the supervisor of the bus satellite for final approval.

What are the bus rules?  Top
See Bus Rules tab on the Transportation Home Page.

What if my child receives a student incident report?  Top
All student incident reports are sent to the school administrator. According to district policy, the school administrator determines all disciplinary action.

What qualifications does a bus driver have?  Top
A MPS school bus driver must be at least 21 years of age, maintain a clean driving record, undergo annual and random drug and alcohol testing, pass a physical tolerance exam, and must obtain a Commercial Driver’s License and State School Bus Certification. All school bus drivers also have an IVP fingerprint clearance card.

What training programs do bus drivers attend?  Top
District school bus drivers exceed the minimum training requirements of the state of Arizona, which consists of classroom training, behind the wheel training, continuing education, first aid/CPR, and additional bi-monthly safety meetings.

How many children ride school buses?  Top
In the United States, about 23,500,000 children ride school buses between home and school. That's about 55 percent of the K-12 population. When you multiply the daily ridership by the number of school days, school buses provide the United States with an estimated 10 billion student rides annually. 

How safe are school buses?  Top
According to the National Safety Council, school buses are the safest form of ground transportation. In fact they are about 40 times safer than the family car. 

The bus didn't show up on time. How long should my child wait at the stop?  Top
Your child should arrive at the stop at least 10 minutes before the scheduled arrival time of the bus. If there is a substitute driver, the times may not be absolutely consistent with the regular times. If the bus is late, ask your child to remain at the stop. Buses break down, roads are blocked, drivers become ill or have emergencies, but there will always be a bus at every stop. If the wait becomes 10 minutes or longer, call the appropriate bus yard.

Who do I call with a transportation emergency after hours?  Top
Call School Safety and Security at (480) 472-1150. School Safety and Security has a listing of contact telephone numbers for transportation supervisors and are able to contact staff members to handle any type of situation regarding school buses. 

My child is a special needs student. To whom should I speak concerning his transportation when he/she is ill or on vacation?  Top
Call dispatch at the appropriate bus yard .


Did You Know…?  Top

School buses are 40 times safer than the family car. The school bus is the only mode of transportation that has been reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities while increasing the number of vehicles, miles and passengers annually.

How many people can safely sit on a school bus seat?  Top
Federal regulation does not specify the number of people that can sit on a school bus seat. School bus manufacturers determine the maximum seating capacity of a school bus. 

School transportation providers generally determine the number of people they can safely fit into a school bus seat. Generally, they fit three smaller elementary students, two adults or two high school students into a typical 39-inch school bus seat. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that all passengers be seated entirely within the confines of the school bus seats while the bus is in motion. Federal motor vehicle safety standard No. 222 (School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection) requires that the interior of large buses provide occupant protection so that children are protected without the need to buckle-up. Occupant crash protection is provided by a protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs. Persons not sitting or sitting partially outside of the school bus seats will not be afforded the occupant protection provided by the school bus seats. 

Why are school bus seats spaced so closely together?  Top
The basic purpose in spacing school bus seats so closely is to contain the child in a cushioned compartment with only a minimum amount of space between energy-absorbing surfaces.

After extensive research in the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Transportation and its agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the safest and most practical arrangement for school bus seating would be a compartmentalization concept. Accordingly, the new safety regulations established in 1977 include this requirement, among many other improvements made that year. 

Under the compartmentalization concept, seat backs in school buses are made higher, wider and thicker than before. All metal surfaces are covered with foam padding. This structure must then pass rigid test requirements for absorbing energy, such as would be required if a child's body were thrown against the padded back. In addition, the equivalent of a seat back, called a barrier, is placed in front of the first seat at the front of the bus.

In addition to padding, today's seats also must have a steel inner structure that springs and bends forward to help absorb energy when a child is thrown against it. The steel frame must "give" just enough to absorb the child in the seat ahead. Also, of course, the seat is required to be anchored to the floor so strongly that it will not pull loose during this bending action. 

The floor itself must be constructed so that it will not be bent or torn by the pulling action of the seat anchors.

Clearly, if the backs were too far apart, the child could be thrown too far before being cushioned and/or could be thrown outside the compartment altogether. Today's rules call for a seat back to be no farther than 24 inches away from a defined point in the middle of a child's abdomen (the seat reference point).

About school bus passenger safety and seat beltsTop
Commonly, people believe that children are not protected during a crash because school buses do not have seat belts. In fact, school buses are designed with a clever occupant protection system that fits both a kindergarten student and a high school senior, without the need for seat belts. This occupant protection system is called compartmentalization: The seats are strong, closely spaced together, high backed, well padded, and designed to absorb energy during a crash. Compartmentalization works best in frontal and rear impact scenarios.

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. An average of only seven passengers are fatally injured each year as, nationally, school buses carry more than 23.5 million children daily. (Almost all fatal injuries happen off the bus during times of boarding and after they leave the bus). The Safety Board continues to investigate school bus crashes to ensure that this safety record continues.

Why aren’t seat belts required in school buses?  Top
Seat belts are not required in school buses because research by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and others, determined that compartmentalization was a better solution, as mentioned in the answer to the previous question. Some of the key arguments favoring compartmentalization over seat belts are as follows:

  • Compartmentalization is more manageable. The protective surfaces exist in place without depending on any action by the children or any extra special supervision by the drivers. Seat belts require discipline and supervision to keep them clean, unraveled and in use. 
  • Compartmentalization, once it has done its energy-absorbing job, leaves the student free to escape the bus. Seat belts could leave students strapped in, upside down, perhaps unconscious, in burning or flooding buses. 
  • Compartmentalization works equally well for one, two or three students per seat. Today's 39-inch-wide standard seats may contain three small children or two large ones, or any combination in between.
  • Compartmentalization works whether students have fully developed abdominal areas or not. Conventional seat belts, which are lap restraints only, are not suitable for small children, whose abdominal area and bone structure are not adequately developed to take the force of a lap belt alone. They need the help of safety vest, as designated in the I.E.P. transportation plan which adds to the complexity of a proper seat belt solution. 
  • Compartmentalization is most affordable. Although not a part of the Department of Transportation's reasoning, this is a factor to be considered. In evaluating the cost of seat belts alone, one should include the cost of retractors and chest restraints also, since those appear needed. Even more important is the probability that a seat belt solution should lead to two students per seat and greater spacing between seats, thereby requiring more buses for the same student load. 

Why do buses stop at all railroad crossings?  Top
All school buses are required by law to stop at ALL railroad crossings. School bus drivers will activate the hazard warning lights when preparing to stop at a railroad crossing.  

Please be aware of your surroundings, and watch out for school buses preparing to stop at a railroad crossing.

When should I stop for a school bus?  Top
Learn and obey the school bus laws. Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions. See our When to Stop diagrams.

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.  
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing and the extended stop sign is withdrawn before they start driving again. 

Why are school buses are painted yellow?  Top
In 1939, delegates to the first National Minimum Standards Conference wanted a uniform color so school buses would be recognized by the same color nationwide. A second consideration was cost, since manufacturers charged more money for special colors. Delegates also concluded that for safety's sake, yellow was easier to see in fog, rain and other adverse weather conditions. 

National School Bus Chrome Yellow was first adopted at that conference. The conference was at Teachers College, Columbia University, April 10-16, 1939. All 48 states were represented, usually by someone from the state department of education. The group called itself the National Council of Chief State School Officers. H.E. Hendrix, Arizona's state superintendent of public instruction, was the first president. In 1974, the federal government approved Standard 17. In this standard, which has since been revised and is now a highway safety guideline, the federal government suggested that school buses should be painted National School Bus Chrome Yellow. That's when the states started to use yellow on all new buses. Now, there is no federal law that requires school buses to be painted yellow. It is up to each state to do so. Some states, paint some of their school buses, such as activity buses, white. But the bulk of the state's fleet is painted school bus yellow.

Mesa Public School Statistics  Top
In the 2018-19 school year, Mesa Public Schools provided more than 34,740 rides each day, totaling more than 6,253,200 individual rides per year. This does not include the thousands of field trips, athletic trips, shuttle rides to specialty programming at other schools and summer classes for which we provide transportation.

We averaged 28,900 daily miles driven per day for a total over 5,196,000 miles per year.