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Frequently Asked Questions

School bus transportation in Richland School District Two is a shared responsibility of the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and the school district. This shared responsibility provides a transportation system that is safe, economical and efficient. The SCDE furnishes and maintains the bus fleet and the school district recruits, trains and assigns bus drivers. Bus routes are developed by the district and approved by the SCDE. Most buses in Richland School District Two provide service to three bus routes, one for each grade level (middle, elementary and high). Some buses have multiple routes at the Elementary and High Schools and service a total of four routes. 

Below you will find answers to the common common questions we receive about transportation services. Click on the question to see the answer. 

Contact

Who do I call if I have a problem with the behavior on the school bus?
Who do I call if I have a question or concern about school transportation?

Getting Started

Who is eligible to ride the bus? 
Do I have to fill out paperwork for my child to ride the bus?
Are young students also required to walk?
Why can’t the school bus come closer to my house?
How can my child qualify to receive special state hazardous transportation fund services? Can I receive school transportation services that are not state funded and are exceptions to state laws and regulations? 
My child attends a school/magnet program she is not zoned for through Choice. Is she eligible for transportation services?

Pick Up and Drop Off

Can I have my child picked up at one location in the morning and transported to another location after school?
Why can’t the school bus come down my road?
What time should children be at the bus stop?
Where should children stand at the bus stop?
Why can't the bus pick up and drop off my child where I work?
Why is my child’s bus late? 
What is the maximum ride time for my child?

Who sets school bus routes and schedules?
Why did my child have to stand on the bus today?


Safety

Who is responsible for safety at bus stops?
Can my child be required to sit in a designated school bus seat?
Why can’t I get on the bus to talk to the bus driver?
Why can’t my child bring their band instrument onto the bus?
Do I have to meet my children at the bus stop? 
What can I do to make my child’s trip to school safe?
Why are there no seat belts on school buses?
Are the school buses breaking down more often?
How many is too many students on a school bus?
Are there cameras on the buses?
What does a school bus cost, why are they so old, and why don’t they have air conditioning?

 


Q: Who do I call if I have a problem with the behavior on the school bus?
A: You should direct your inquiry to the principal or assistant principal of the school your child attends. Because the school bus is considered an extension of the learning environment, discipline is handled by the child's school (a contact list for Richland Two schools is available here). For more information on discipline at Richland Two, please see the Student Services Department’s information on Student Discipline.

Please review the Back-to-School Handbook, which is updated annually.  The Handbook includes information about student conduct.  Students are expected to conduct themeselves in a manner conducive to learning in the classroom and on school and acitivity buses, which are considered an extension of the the learning environment.

Q: Who do I call if I have a question or concern about school transportation?
A: Bus service is operated by the Richland Two Transportation Department.  Questions and concerns should first be communicated to the Richland Two Transportation office at 803.736.3774. 

Q: Who is eligible to ride the bus? 
A: Bus service is available to students who live more than 1.5 miles away from the school for which they are zoned. Students who live within 1.5 miles of their school are not generally eligible for school bus transportation. The distance is normally measured from the edge of the property or driveway where the student lives to the nearest entry point of the school property. 

Q: Do I have to fill out paperwork for my child to ride the bus?
A: Yes. Students eligible for bus service must register for transportation when registering for classes.  After registration has ended, parents/guardians can request transportation by contacting their child's school. 


Q: Are young students also required to walk?
A: Yes. The Richland Two Transportation Department and the SC Department of Education (SCDE) share the responsibility of providing a transportation system that is safe, economical and efficient. State law does not consider the age of a student as a factor, so a five-year-old girl receives the same level of service as a 19-year-old boy. Both students may have to walk up to 1.5 miles to school or, if they are eligible for state-funded school transportation, they may have to walk up to three-tenths of a mile to access their bus route. The SCDE believes that young children should receive service closer to their homes and has recommended this change to General Assembly, but no legislation has been passed that would authorize it. The SCDE also works with local school districts to prioritize school bus stop locations and the use of state hazardous transportation funding for kindergarten through third-grade students.
Exceptions:

  • Students attending half-day pre-school programs may receive a higher level of service. The trip for these students, either to school or back home, that does not include older students (kindergarten, first grade, etc.) will load or unload students as close as possible to their designated origins or destinations, respectively.
Q: Why can’t the school bus come closer to my house?
A: Bus service is available to students who live more than 1.5 miles away from the school for which they are zoned. Students may be required to walk up to a three-tenths of a mile to access their school bus stop. An additional route segment may be added in cases where students live more than three-tenths of a mile from an existing route. Stops cannot be placed closer together than two-tenths of a mile. 
Exceptions:
  • Students with disabilities who live within the 1.5 mile zone may be eligible to receive transportation depending on the relationship between the student’s disability and transportation.
  • Students who live within the 1.5 mile zone who are required to walk through traffic hazard areas may qualify for service. This decision is made on a case by case basis by the school district.
  • During periods of inclement weather, buses may be allowed to stop on the regular route at safe points nearest the house of each child, but cannot deviate from regular routes.

Q: How can my child qualify to receive special state hazardous transportation fund services? Can my child receive school transportation services that are not state funded and are there exceptions to state laws and regulations?
A: State law requires that the school district show a direct correlation between the student safety and either railroad or highway traffic if the student lives within the 1.5 mile state designated walk zone surrounding his or her school. Under most circumstances, students living within a 1.5 mile walking distance to their school will not be provided school bus transportation. However, school districts are allowed to provide enhanced school transportation services over and above those mandated by state law. The financial burden for paying for these services falls on local taxpayers.  

Since these funds are very limited, the state encourages school districts to serve the youngest, most vulnerable students first. For this reason, a walking route that may be considered hazardous for elementary school students may not be considered hazardous for high school students. Remember, "hazard" only means a rail or motor vehicle traffic hazard. Other possible hazards such as wild animals, sexual predators, etc. are concerns that must be handled by parents and law enforcement or other public agencies. 

To request hazardous transportation, please contact the transportation hub that serves your child's bus route.

Q: My child attends a school/magnet program she is not zoned for through Choice. Is she eligible for transportation services?  
A: Students attending a school of choice program are not eligible for school bus transportation. Students attending Magnet programs outside their school attendance zone are not authorized transportation. 

To view the schools that are zoned for your address, click here.


Q: Can I have my child picked up at one location in the morning and transported to another location after school?
A: Parents may choose to have their children picked up and/or dropped off at licensed daycare facilities located within their child's zoned school attendance zone. This state-funded service is available for students who are eligible riders, although the school bus stop must be in the attendance zone of the school the child is zoned to attend. The service allows students to be transported to and from daycare facilities – at the parent’s request. If you want your child’s school bus stop, morning and/or afternoon, to be at a daycare facility, you must complete the appropriate form and return it to your child's school.

This service is not available to any students enrolled in a choice program.
Q: Why can’t the school bus come down my road?
A: In addition to the student eligibility rules, school buses are only allowed to travel on roadways that assure the safe transport of students. Safety is determined by the ability of the school bus to meet and pass another vehicle of equal size, and the roadway must be well-built enough to avoid damaging the school bus or creating the potential for an accident. In addition, bus stops must have a clear visibility of 600 feet in each direction, or a "School Bus Stop Ahead" sign must be located at a point 600 feet in each direction from a designated stop. Stops and turn-abouts shall not be made on blind curves, steep grades, or near the crests of hills or other unsafe traffic environment.  Backing up a school bus is to be avoided.  The quality of the roadway during bad weather also must be taken into consideration. The safety of the student passengers must be given top priority. School buses are also restricted from using certain private roads. Private roads are only used with the permission of the owner(s).

Q: What time should children be at the bus stop?
A: Students should arrive at the school bus stop five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Buses may arrive within 10 minutes of the scheduled time, but  may not leave the stop before the scheduled bus stop arrival time unless all enrolled students have boarded.

Q: Where should children stand at the bus stop?
A: A school bus stop includes both sides of any two-lane road. Children are not required to cross a multilane road to access a school bus stop. Students should generally be standing on the side of the road nearest to their home and should not stand next to the roadway. Students should stand away from the road until after the school bus has come to a complete stop, activated the traffic control devices, and the driver has motioned the students to board the bus. Before crossing the road, students are always to watch the school bus driver and wait for the driver to verify that traffic following and meeting the bus has stopped. Once the driver has verified that the traffic has stopped and it is safe to cross the road, students will be signaled to cross. Students should check for traffic before crossing the road and watch the school bus driver as they cross in case the traffic environment suddenly changes. Students must never cross behind a school bus. When students cross in front of a bus, they must make sure that the bus driver sees them. The bus driver must acknowledge the student’s crossing. Adults supervising children at school bus stops can set a good example by following the same road crossing rules required of children. 

Q: Why can't the bus pick up and drop off my child where I work?
Bus transportation is provided only to residences and daycare facilities. Bus stops will not be located at places of business.

Q: Why is my child’s bus late? 
A: Most buses in Richland Two provide service to three bus routes, one for each grade level (middle, elementary and high). Some buses have multiple routes at the elementary and high schools and service a total of four routes. Still we make the best effort to have buses arrive and depart on time. With the exception of first several weeks of school or the weeks immediately following the opening of a new school, buses are usually late for two reasons: mechanical problems or a substitute or late driver.

Q: What is the maximum ride time for my child?
A: State law does not limit ride time or distance. Although it is rare for a route to be longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes, this does sometimes occur. The SCDE monitors ride times and tries to shorten them as much as possible within the limitations of the bus fleet.

Q: Who sets school bus routes and schedules?
A: School bus routes and schedules are managed by the Richland Two Transportation Department and approved by the SCDE to ensure they are in compliance with state law. The SCDE provides assistance to each school district, but the district makes all final determinations

Q: Why did my child have to stand on the bus today?
A: The safety of our students is our first priority, but there are certain circumstances that may result in students having to stand on buses. State law permits school districts to transport students in standing room during the first 20 days of a school bus route. These 20 days usually occur at the beginning of the school year or immediately after the opening of a new school. The SCDE reluctantly agrees with this law because school districts have no way to know how many students will be waiting at the bus stop for a ride on the first few days of a route until the bus actually runs the route.

Therefore, there are locations that, on a given day, may have more students boarding the bus than there are seats. When this happens, the school district is required to make adjustments in school bus routing so that every student has a safe seat.

If "standing students" were never allowed, a school bus driver would be required to leave students standing on the side of the road once the bus reached capacity. This would be a far more dangerous situation for the child.

Consider the example of a five-year-old student waiting for the bus, but when the bus arrives, it’s full. The driver tells the child to wait on the side of the road for the next bus, which will be by in 20 minutes. Remember, the child may be standing in a remote location at 6 a.m. It is still dark, and the child’s parents may have already left for work. Children are rarely injured or killed inside a school bus. 
 
Q: Who is responsible for safety at bus stops?
A: Parents are responsible for student conduct and safety at bus stops until the bus arrives in the morning and after the bus departs in the afternoon. An excerpt from the SC Code of laws: "Section 59-67-415. Parents or guardians are responsible for the safety, conduct, and the timely arrival of their children to, from, and at the designated school bus stop before the arrival of the school bus for pick up and transport to school and the timely departure of the child after the school bus leaves the designated school bus stop after transporting the children from school. For purposes of this section, the phrase 'arrival of the school bus' includes the time that the school bus assigned to the school bus stop activates the required pedestrian safety devices, stops, and loads or unloads students until the school bus deactivates all pedestrian safety devices." 

Q: Can my child be required to sit in a designated school bus seat?
A: Yes, students can be assigned to a seat. This is a practice used by many school districts to control behavior on the school bus. State law gives school districts this authority.

Q: Why can’t I get on the bus to talk to the bus driver?
A: Parents desiring to discuss any issue with the bus driver must contact the school administrators to arrange a meeting after the bus completes its routes. School buses cannot be delayed during the route for parents to talk to the driver. Boarding a school bus without permission or interfering with the operation of the bus in any way is illegal and could result in prosecution. (SC Code 59- 67-245). This law protects the safety of students and helps assure that routes run on time. 

Q: Why can’t my child bring their band instrument onto the bus?
A: All items allowed onto buses must be able to be held in the student’s lap and must not extend beyond the student’s seating space. The child is not allowed to sit on a book bag or similar carry-on item or store items on the floor of the bus. These are safety requirements. Therefore, students are not allowed to carry large music instruments, science projects, or other items that may protrude into the seating space of another student. These items must also not be allowed to block access to exits. These requirements are necessary so that in the event of a traffic accident, carry-on items are secured and do not become projectiles inside the bus.

Q: Do I have to meet my children at the bus stop? 
A: Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students must be met at the bus stop by an authorized individual. When the parent/guardian of the kindergarten/pre-kindergarten student requests bus transportation, they must complete the Kindergarten Student Escort form. On that form, they list desginated individuals who the parent/guardian authorizes to meet the student at the bus stop. Designated individuals may include parents/guardians, grandparents, neighbors or older siblings. If no one on a student's form is at the bus stop to take charge of the student, the student be returned to his or her elementary school once the bus route has been completed and the parents/guardians will be notified by the school. The parent/guardian must then arrange for the student to be picked up at the school. 


Q: What can I do to make my child’s trip to school safe?
A: Accompany or arrange for an adult to accompany your child to the school bus stop and wait for the school bus to arrive. In the afternoon, a parent/guardian or other adult should be at the school bus stop when the bus arrives and accompany your child home. Parents should model safe practices at the bus stop including standing away from the road until after the school bus has come to a complete stop, activated the traffic control devices, and the driver has motioned the students to board the bus. Adults should make sure children check for traffic before crossing the road and watch the school bus driver as they cross in case the traffic environment suddenly changes. Students must never cross behind a school bus. State law places the responsibility for a child’s safety on the parent until the school bus arrives at the bus stop in the morning and after the bus leaves the site in the afternoon.

Q: Why are there no seat belts on school buses?
A: School buses are designed with a "compartmentalized" passenger safety system. That’s a big word, but it basically means that the interior of the bus is designed with seats that are strong, flexible, padded and spaced precise distances apart to protect student riders. In addition, the exterior construction is designed to prevent the penetration of objects into the passenger area or the collapse of the roof. The compartmentalization system is "passive," meaning that students only need to sit down in the bus seat. They don’t have to put on or attach any kind of device to gain an increased level of safety. Research shows that school buses with compartmentalization are the safest passenger transportation vehicles – 70 times safer than the family car and four times safer than train travel. A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that lap belts in school buses create an unsafe situation. The same NHTSA study found very minimum safety benefit to lap/shoulder belt systems on school buses. Only in the last two years have lap/should belt systems been available on school buses. Lap/shoulder belt systems are also very costly. To install them on all school buses in South Carolina would cost $39 million. The SCDE believes that this investment of tax dollars can be better spent improving other school transportation services that would have greater safety benefits.

Q: How many is too many students on a school bus?
A: Bus manufacturers determine the seating capacity of each bus, and this rating is usually shown on the manufacturers vehicle identification plate. Most South Carolina school buses have a rated seating capacity of 60 to 78 students. Buses that are designed to transport students with disabilities transport fewer students because these buses must make room for wheelchair lift systems and at least two wheelchair securement systems on each bus. Bus manufacturers calculate seating capacity by assigning 13 inches of seat width per student. Thirteen inches is the typical space needed for kindergarten through third-grade students; obviously, older students take up more room.

The SCDE provides a guide to school districts that recommends the rated seating capacity be reduced by 20 percent for middle school students and 33 percent for high school students. For example, a school bus rated to transport 78 first-graders would be able to transport 51 high school students. But the true test of a school bus’s capacity is whether a bus can safely transport the students assigned to ride. Safety is measured by the fact that every student must be fully seated on the seat cushion, not protruding into the aisle. There are exceptions to this, however. State law permits school districts to transport students in standing room during the first 20 days of a school bus route. These 20 days usually occur at the beginning of the school year or immediately after the opening of a new school. 

Q: Are there cameras on the buses?
A: Buses in Richland School District Two are equipped with video cameras. School administrators may authorize parents to review tapes only in limited circumstances. All requests to review a tape must be made through school administrators; the transportation department cannot authorize any review.

Q: What does a school bus cost, why are they so old, and why don’t they have air conditioning?
A: The typical South Carolina school bus costs approximately $67,000, although this cost can vary depending on the size of the bus (number of seats), special equipment to serve students with disabilities (wheelchair lifts and wheelchair escapement systems); and other special features (special seating for infants and toddlers). A typical school bus designed to transport students with disabilities will cost $78,000. In 2006, the State Legislature passed a law to require the fleet to be modernized and set the replacement cycle at 12 years. It will take several years to cycle all the older buses out of service. Air conditioning is not provided because it would add approximately $10,000 to the cost of each bus. The SCDE in 1992 changed the roof color of school buses to white and added a ventilation system that costs very little. This reduced the interior average summertime temperature by approximately 17 degrees.

Q: Are the old school buses safe?
A: Yes, the buses are safe. The SCDE is required to maintain, in original working order, all of each vehicle’s original safety equipment. However, the older a bus gets, the more differences there are when compared with a new one. For example, only buses purchased after 2000 have alarms that assure that sleeping students are not left on the bus. Buses built after 1999 have anti-lock braking systems; those built after 1998 have seat covers made with fire-blocking material; those built after 1994 have rooftop strobe lights and forward and backup alarms; those built after 1989 have emergency roof and window exits. South Carolina’s school bus fleet has 2,611 buses that have none of these features; that’s nearly half of the fleet.

Q: Are the school buses breaking down more often?
A: Even though the state has a 99.6% rate of school bus availability, older buses do break down more often and cause students to be either late for morning classes or late arriving home in the afternoon. The two main goals of school transportation are to transport students safely and to get students to class on time for instruction. The older the fleet, the greater the chance the school bus will have a maintenance problem and students will be late for class.