Frequently Asked Questions
If you have additional questions, comments or concerns please do not hesitate to send us an email on the Contact Us page.
Is my child(ren) eligible for transportation?
The School Board sets transportation eligibility based on transportation policy. The School Board walk distance criteria for eligibility is as follows:
Kindergarten to Grade 8: residing more than 1.6 km from designated school of attendance.
Grade 9- Grade 12: residing more than 3.2 km from designated school of attendance.
What is a designated school boundary?
Each School Board sets an attendance boundary for the school. Children who reside within the attendance boundary are entitled to attend that school. Your local school can provide information on their respective attendance boundary. You may also verify your designated school through the school board website school locator.
What is a transportation boundary?
A transportation boundary is set to designate the area within the designated school boundary outside of the walk distance whereby children living in the designated school area qualify for Board-provided home to school transportation.
I am moving. Who do I need to notify?
Contact the school and register your child, or, if the school remains unchanged, provide the new address information to the existing school. Durham Student Transportation arranges transportation based on the information provided by the school and only takes change of address information from the parent/guardian over the phone during the summer when the schools are closed.
How long does it take for transportation arrangements to come into effect?
It typically takes 3 business days to organize transportation arrangements once Durham Student Transportation Services receives the information from the school.
Routes are prepared prior to the start of the school year. Because route arrangements have already been completed, altering arrangements requires communication between the bus operator and DSTS and may impact other children already scheduled on the vehicle. In light of the above, and due to the volume of requests, during the month of September, it can take up to 5 business days.
How does Durham Student Transportation Services select a bus stop location?
Many factors are considered when selecting bus stop locations. DSTS is responsible for selecting stop locations and considers road & traffic conditions, size of the bus, distance between stops, sight lines and overall safety. Community stops are selected whenever possible, meaning accessible for more than one student. In a rural environment, the bus will pick up close to the residence, but is not required to stop directly at the residence. In rural areas where there are groupings of homes, community stops will be established. Bus stops are not usually located in townhouse complexes, cul-de-sacs or construction areas including new housing developments. DSTS contracted vehicles do not travel into privately maintained roads, extended rural driveways or gated communities.
My child left personal items on the bus. Who do I contact?
Contact the bus operator regarding lost items. Be ready to provide the school and route number to the bus operator. Click here for bus carrier contact information.
If I have an infant or a small child at home, can I change my bus stop to my door, so I do not have to bundle up my children?
Your children's transportation is governed by the same policies as other families who do not have infants or smaller children at home. It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to get students to and from the stop, both in the morning and the afternoon.
Why are there no seat belts on school buses?
Very few injuries happen on school buses. Instead of requiring seat belts, school buses are designed and constructed differently from passenger cars. School buses protect passengers through "compartmentalization", a design that includes:
Seats with high backs; Seats filled with energy-absorbing material; Seats placed close together to form compartments and strong seat anchorages.
Studies have shown that adding seat belts to the current seating configuration of a school bus can increase the chance of head and neck injuries. For a seat belt to be effective, it must be worn correctly, snug and on the upper thighs. Because school vehicles carry passengers from the very young to high school students, if seat belts were used, they would need to be readjusted and their use monitored. A seat belt not worn correctly may cause serious injuries.
Who is responsible for my child's safety prior to boarding the bus and after disembarking from the bus?
The parent or caregiver is responsible for the student until they board the bus and after they disembark from the bus.
My child is in kindergarten. Are there any special provisions for kindergarten students?
Kindergarten students being returned by bus will not be permitted to exit the bus unless the appropriate parent or caregiver is present to meet them at their bus stop. Kindergarten students who are not met will be returned to their school and the parent/caregiver will need to make their own arrangements to pick them up there. Kindergarten students are expected to utilize community common stops with other neighbourhood students.
Why can't students eat on the bus?
Eating and drinking is not allowed on the bus for safety reasons. A child could choke on a piece of food and with the high seat backs and noise on the bus, the driver may not be aware of the situation until it is too late. Left over food and drink not only causes a mess, but can attract bees and wasps. Some students have a very severe reaction to bee stings and to some foods such as peanut butter. It is safer for everyone when the no eating and drinking rule is adhered to.
Can I request changes in service directly from the driver?
Drivers are employees of the bus operator and are not authorized to make any changes or accommodate requests. Bus operators are under contract with Durham Student Transportation Services Consortium and therefore both the operator and the driver must comply with the Durham Student Transportation Services Consortium policy and terms of the contract. A driver cannot and will not authorize requests. It would be inappropriate to place the driver in jeopardy through demands contrary to policy or to their conditions of employment.
Any request to change a stop location, and transportation related services must be submitted to Durham Student Transportation Services. After reviewing the request, Durham Student Transportation Services will notify the person making the request. To fill out a stop change review form click here.
How do I find out about busing arrangements/changes for my child(ren)?
During the school year, you may contact the secretary at your school or Durham Student Transportation Services directly.
During the summer and school start, you may call the 24 hour IVR (Interactive Voice Response) System at 905-666-6979 or 1-866-908-6578. This is a secure IVR line, you will need your child's Ontario Education Number (OEN) which is located on report cards to sign-in to obtain your child's specific information.
DSTS encourages parents/guardians to check bussing information each year. Please note pick up and drop off times may change from year to year or during the school year.
If I am expected to walk to school and there is a bus in my area with empty seats, can I ride the vehicle?
Non-eligible riders are not permitted to ride any vehicle having empty seats as there is no way to respond to those requests equitably across the region.
For example, in high density areas, a vehicle having 5 empty seats could have 30 non-eligible students.
How do I find out if my bus is delayed or cancelled?
All bus delays greater than ten (10) minutes are posted on the DSTS website main page. You can also use the subscription feature available through the DSTS website so that delays impacting your child's bus route are emailed directly to you.
I do not think the bus stop location is safe. What can I do?
Parents are requested to fill out the Stop Change Review form on the website.
The stop location will be reviewed by DSTS and a decision will be made and communicated to the parent/guardian.
The types of concerns typically raised by parents are : no sidewalks, traffic speed, no posted school zone signs, no cross walks, no crossing guards, no railroad crossing signs and/or construction. These potential concerns are under the jurisdiction of the municipality and Durham Student Transportation Services may not consider these types of situations as safety concerns in and of themselves. Community bus stops are used throughout the region, so it should be understood that students will be required to walk a limited distance to and from the bus stop.
Due to the volume of requests for stop location reviews received in September, stop reviews commence in mid- October.
I have a concern about my child's bus driver. Who do I contact?
If you have a concern regarding your child's bus driver, contact DSTS. When a concern is received by DSTS, the bus operator is contacted and the situation is investigated. It is important to know your child's bus number and to know if the concern is based on an isolated incident or persistent behaviour.
If you have a concern regarding student behaviour on the bus, you should contact the school. The bus is considered an extension of the classroom and the Principal of the school is responsible for following up with student behaviour issues.
Why can't my child bring their musical instruments or sports equipment to school on the bus?
Aisles must be kept clear at all times to ensure the safe evacuation of students from the bus in emergency situations. If equipment or other items cannot be stored on the student's lap or under the seat, they are not permitted on the bus.
Can my children, in different grades, ride together on the same bus?
Only in situations where eligibility for service qualifies them to be on the same bus can they ride together. If this is not the case, transportation routing may be on different vehicles. For example, if one of your children requires accessibility vehicle it does not mean both your children will be transported via this vehicle.
Do I need to confirm my child's busing schedule every year?
Yes, bus routes and times can change based on the bus route and student registrations. Please contact our office or automated line in August of each year to confirm your route number and times of pick up and drop off.
I use a caregiver and/or daycare at an alternate address than my home address? Does my child(ren) qualify for transportation?
Transportation to an alternate address for a caregiver and/or daycare can be arranged if the following conditions are met:
- Student is an elementary aged student (Kindergarten to Grade 8).
- The caregiver/daycare provider is within your primary address designated school boundary.
- The alternate address is within the school transportation boundary and is eligible for transportation.
- The alternate address is used consistently every day, Monday through Friday every week for the school year.
Please keep in mind that not all daycare facilities receive door to door stops. Please check with your daycare provider to ensure that someone is accompanying your child (ren) to and from the designated bus stop.
If the weather is bad, how do I know if buses are cancelled?
Bus cancellation information is provided to a significant number of media outlets, and is generally communicated by 7 AM. DSTS will make every effort to announce the decision to cancel school buses before the start of the school day between 6:00 am and 7:00 am and as such, will post announcements with the local radio stations and the DSTS website. Parents make the final decision in sending children to school during inclement weather. Please visit the Inclement Weather section of the DSTS website for more information regarding bus cancellation procedures.
I am going on vacation and I want my child(ren) dropped off at a different location?
Temporary transportation changes cannot be accommodated. Parents/or guardians traveling (i.e. Trips, conferences, etc...) throughout the school year are responsible for making their own arrangements for their children if they are at a caregivers/family friend for the duration of the parent/guardian's absence.