Student transportation handbook

Five things you should know when taking the school bus


Hanh Nguyen

School buses line up in front of the school, ready to pick students up after school. They start lining up at the beginning of seventh period.

​​Riding the school bus is a very lengthy process for junior Kaedence Fleary. She lives 10 minutes away from school, but it takes her 30 minutes by bus.

“It shouldn’t be as time-consuming,” Fleary said. “There should be no reason that I get home at 5 p.m. when school ends at 4:10 p.m.”

Sophomore Zhen Li, who shares the same route with Fleary, said one of his biggest frustrations is the lack of seats.

“At the beginning, there were a lot of people but there weren’t many seats,” Li said. “Sometimes I’ve seen people wait for a second bus to come out.”

Fleary and Li are among the 250 Bellaire students who take the bus every day and the 36,000 students who take the school bus every day within HISD.

Drivers and route assignments along with weather conditions, like rain and road construction, add traffic to the equation resulting in the delay of getting to school for students.

According to Magnet Coordinator/Campus Transfer Analyst & AP Coordinator Lam Ngo, bus drivers sometimes have to combine routes.

“I know there was a shortage in years past, but this year it’s been a lot better and more reliable,” Ngo said. “For us at Bellaire as a whole, it has been a lot better where we are pretty much covered.”

Though bus drivers have increased this year to cover most of the route within Bellaire, Ngo said there are still two routes that don’t have a designated driver.

“On one of our routes, the driver just retired a few weeks back and then on another route, they didn’t have a driver whatsoever since the beginning of this school year,” Ngo said.

As a student who is affected by this situation, junior Kihea Adams-Wilson said he always ran late to school because there’s no driver for his route.

“At the start of the school year, [the school bus] was pretty stable,” Adams-Wilson said. “We had a driver who came at 7:30 a.m. But [around] two or three weeks ago, I think the bus driver said he quit, so we haven’t had a stable bus driver since then. They pick us up, maybe 8:30 a.m. so I don’t get to school until 8:50 a.m. or so.”

Bus riders often can’t get to school on time because of traffic and sitting assignments, but it is the only option for students whose parents leave earlier for work.

Here are the top five things to know to improve your daily bus commute experience.

1. Sign up early and find your route:

As the person responsible for inputting requests for school buses, Ngo said students should register for the school bus up to 10 days days before the first day of school to ensure that they will be assigned a route.

“​​Normally it takes the district seven to ten business days to process any new transportation requests,” Ngo said. “So when [the student] expect me to give them a route immediately, that’s not going to happen after sometime, but I can give them a rough idea of where the bus stop might be.”

The sign up link can be found on Bellaire’s website in the middle column. After the bus route has been assigned, students can find their route on link will provide the location for the stop and the estimated time of arrival so that students can plan ahead to get to the destination on time.

2. Solution to an overloaded bus:

There are times when the school bus runs out of seats and students scramble to get on the bus. When this happens, students should not panic, as there will be another school bus that will come to pick up the remaining students.

“Sometimes if it was way too overpacked, [the driver] does call for an additional bus, but that bus could come maybe 30 minutes, 40 minutes later,” Ngo said. “It depends on what driver can pick up.”

Although there will be a risk of coming late to class, bus passes will be issued for students so that they will not be penalized for coming late.

3. Time management:
“All students should be at their assigned stop location at least 10 minutes prior to estimated time of arrival,” the HISD email to notify students’s routes stated.

It is essential that students show up early, as there is an inconsistent pattern for bus arrival times. In addition, if buses do not arrive 15 minutes after the designated time, students should call HISD transportation customer service immediately to check on the location of the bus for further arrangement.

4. Bus passes:

Students can get their own bus passes in Room 2726. In addition, students can also sign the late bus sign-in sheet by the front desk at Main Street so they can be verified later by the bus coordinator.

“If it’s a lot of kids, normally they would just go to class, and they’ll shoot me an email later,” Ngo said. “And I know which [students] are on the route.”

5. Bus IDs:

Bus drivers now use rosters and ask for bus IDs from students. The IDs are located in Room 2726 and are distributed by Ngo. IDs help drivers make sure that only the student who signs up for the route can get on the bus which helps to prevent overloaded buses.

Despite these challenges,the school bus is in fact a decent option for students as it allows safe and cheap transportation.