Changes this year in Seattle Public Schools’ transportation plan

Just because your child had school-bus service last year, doesn’t mean s/he will have it this year, according to Seattle Public Schools‘ new transportation plan. The district has just issued a news release with details about that and what else is changing this year – read on:

Starting this fall, Seattle Public Schools elementary and K-8 students attending their neighborhood school will have shorter bus rides, thanks to new transportation zones approved by the Seattle School Board earlier this year.

The goal behind these neighborhood-based transportation zones is to streamline bus routes for attendance-area elementary and K-8 schools, decreasing the bus ride time for neighborhood schools to 25 minutes or less and saving an estimated $4 million by using fewer buses and less gas. To accomplish this, some buses will cover three routes in the morning and afternoon instead of the more traditional two routes.

“With more efficient routing, buses are less likely to encounter the traffic delays that occur on longer routes, so families will find departure and arrival times to be more reliable,” said Tom Bishop, SPS transportation manager. “In addition, the more streamlined routes will also benefit the environment by taking up to 80 buses off the roads and reducing the district’s carbon footprint.”

Transportation zones will include the entire attendance area of a school, extending to areas within a 1.25-mile radius from the school in each middle school service area. Existing walk zones to schools would still apply.

As a result of the plan, an estimated 3,600 elementary students who received transportation in the 2010-11 school year now reside outside of the new transportation zones. They will still be eligible for the following transportation:

Students who live within a half of a mile from the Transportation Zone boundary can walk to a yellow bus stop within the zone. Seats will be allocated on a space-available basis.

Community stops will be created so students can catch a yellow bus near an attendance area school and take it to another school.
Students who are no longer eligible for transportation will receive a guaranteed assignment to their attendance area school, if requested.

School bus routes are assigned in late summer after student assignments are complete. As a result, families should expect to receive a letter with their route information in late August, prior to the start of the school year.

Families looking for the transportation zone nearest their school can visit the Planned Transportation Zones page here: Additional information can also be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page at

Two other transportation-related reminders:

* Families should work with their students to prepare them for riding the bus. This includes visiting the bus stop with your child, practicing the walk to and from the bus stop, and discussing what your child should do if he/she misses the school bus.

* For the first two weeks of school (through Sept. 16) all buses will be running late – it’s part of our effort to ensure students are on the correct bus by checking them in as they board the bus and off as they depart.

22 Replies to "Changes this year in Seattle Public Schools' transportation plan"

  • karen August 23, 2011 (2:08 pm)

    This whole thing just makes me so mad!!
    Those children who are now enrolled in non-neighborhood schools have to make a choice to change schools or figure out transportation. I realize that they are offering an interm plan. What this means for my eight year old daughter is that she walks 1/2 mile, in winter in the dark, crossing Delridge,to another school where she then takes and bus to her school.

    The families in this situation did nothing wrong – we did not force our children into schools outside the boundary – the boundary was changed on us.

    It’s great that SPS has lowered their carbon footprint. Did they take into account the number of extra cars on the road to take children to schools where there was previously a bus? That’s two extra trips a day that I did not take last year. And no, I am NOT going to uproot my child from her friends, teachers and school because the rules were changed. She should not have to go through that.

  • question August 23, 2011 (2:43 pm)

    This is great and all…but gee just freaking let my 5th grader attend the school literally across the street from our house like I’ve been requesting for 3 years instead of busing him from alki to highpoint where there is “room for him”

  • Marcia August 23, 2011 (2:51 pm)

    This is going go be a very confusing September for students and families. Also, the schools that are in the third tier- schools starting at 9:25- will no doubt have to figure out how to provide breakfast to bus riding kids and get them to class on time.

    Crossing my fingers for better communication than the press release above….

  • A August 23, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    I hate SPS. Makes me want to move.

  • mad mom August 23, 2011 (3:37 pm)

    Who decided that a 9:35 start time for elementary school children was a good idea? How do those who work and can’t afford daycare work with that? How do those who work, who need their children to take the bus home, who are not in the school attendance area handle that? A guaranteed assignment in attendance area schools? Some of these schools are already overcrowded. How do they justify placing a child in their attendance school when the class sizes are already at 29-30 students? Per policy, the schools over-enroll classrooms based on historical no-show data. I don’t know how to solve the problems of our school district, but what is being done right now does not take our children’s well-being, or educational needs into account.

  • Slider August 23, 2011 (3:53 pm)

    Can someone explain why Chief Sealth is starting at 8:25am intead of 8:05 like last year? School doesn’t get out until 2:55pm, which pushes every other activity in the evening that much later. Kids that play a sport will end up missing more class time because they are dismissed earlier to get to their games. Most other Seattle High schools start before 8am including West Seattle. It was probably someone sitting at a desk at district headquarters that doesn’t live in the real world of students and after school activites.

  • que August 23, 2011 (5:09 pm)

    I believe that the later start time at Sealth is in order to stagger the start times for Denny and Sealth, in order to minimize the chaos at the beginning of the day.

  • private school August 23, 2011 (5:49 pm)

    I am so glad that the SPS is finally doing something about the transportation cost which tax payers are paying. My children attend private school and I drive my children to school each day. Bussing is a luxury not a right. Let’s start the voucher system!

  • denny/sealth parent August 23, 2011 (5:54 pm)

    que is correct, the new sealth start time is to minimize chaos for the now-combined denny/sealth campus. I was told that research was done showing the ‘middle-school’ age child was better suited for learning at the earlier start time (7:40 for Denny), thus the choice of the high-schoolers having the later time. And on the transportation note . . the district is providing 2 of my middle-schoolers with Orca cards for transportation. They’re doing something right in my opinion.

  • Oliver August 23, 2011 (6:29 pm)

    Gatewood starts at 8:35 this year

  • que August 23, 2011 (6:53 pm)

    Lets not threadjack this into a voucher discussion. Please. Let’s keep this as a conversation about SPS Transportation. They are not saving carbon in any way shape or form. They are just moving the carbon credits onto the public. Everyone separately driving is way less efficient than one bus. My kid is grandfathered in, but the closest school for a “community busstop” is .75 miles away from the house and the path home from there crosses two arterials. In my mind, it is wrong that they are not providing for her safe return from school. And what about the people who don’t have a car (or the flexibility) to go and pick up their kid everyday? This plan is not well thought through in my mind. It will be a huge burden on the poorer parts of our community.

  • Oliver August 23, 2011 (7:09 pm)

    Private school, how lucky for you to have the luxury of sending your kids to private school and driving them yourself. You must feel so superior over those people who can’t afford to do so and might not even have cars, yeah that’s the land of luxury.

  • private school August 23, 2011 (7:20 pm)

    SPS Parents step it up. Be responsible to get your children to school!

  • gnb1995 August 23, 2011 (8:18 pm)

    I’m in high school and my parents have always made the choice to drive us to school. Some years it was harder than others, depending on work schedules, etc. I am not judging, just genuinely curious why Seattle Public Schools is responsible for transportation? “In my mind, it is wrong that they are not providing for her safe return from school.” Are they required to provide transportation?

  • karen August 23, 2011 (8:25 pm)

    I understand and even agree with the new transportation. However, I think the kids that were grandfathered into their out of area schools should have had transportation grandfathered, too. It is an unfair burden to make a family find a way to transport a child or to force the child to move to a different school.
    A lot of us in public school are stepping up. We volunteer at the school, we go to PTA meetings, we do fundraising, but we also hold down jobs and driving toa nd from school everyday is going to be very difficult for a lot of people.

  • Neighborly August 23, 2011 (10:53 pm)

    What a time to organize Walking School Buses!

  • Que August 24, 2011 (12:48 am)

    GNB1995 – Historically, public schools have provided bus transportation home for children who live too far away from the school (or had to walk across major arterials) for them to walk home safely. It is a stupid “cost cutting” measure that will not actually save any money (or a pitifully small amount) and cause a good deal of inconvienence for parents.

    Private School – I get my kid to school, I pick her up, I volunteer at her school more than I can even say, I sew for her school, I have been on the PTA board and I organize a program where people can donate items to the school, I also don’t need you acting like SPS parents need to step it up.

  • Public School Advocate August 24, 2011 (8:49 am)

    School District provided transportation is a benefit that is being eliminated from many school districts across the country. Here in Seattle we should feel lucky that it’s still offered vs. feeling we are entitled to free transportation to/from school at a time/stop location that matches perfectly with our family schedule.

  • karen August 24, 2011 (1:17 pm)

    Here’s something I didn’t know. If your school has failed it’s AYP two years in a row, you are allowed to “opt out” and transfer to a different school within your district and the district MUST provide transportation.
    Found at:
    Since the main reason my child does not go to the neighborhood school is the poor quality of the school, this is good information for me. I would encourage you to check to see if this information can help you with transportation.

  • question August 25, 2011 (10:13 am)

    Karen good luck getting them to actually reassign the student. My sons school is a failed school. I filled out the paperwork for a transfer based on no child left behind…he was still assigned to same school. I called found out paperwork was lost and now I have to sit on hold to speak w second level rep. Sit on hold 30 min. 2nd level rep says oh no we have a special assignment person just for no child left behind…transfer mme to that person and it goes straight to voicemail. I leave message. Two days go by no return call…go through the entire phone process again every day for a week including leaving meassages every day. Finally get call back I was transferred everyday to wronge voicemail…given new name to be transferred to leave them three messages no call back. Finally got a form in the mail to fill out and there are only two schools to choose from meeting their test score that have space. Ones in queen anne the other in columbia city! We live on alki across the street from the school…it looks like this is the 3rd year we will continue to sit on the waitlist to get in. In the meantime my choices are send my child up to west seattle elem a failed school or bus him across the bridge and with traffic god knows what time that ordeal would start in the morning or how erratic his actually arrival time would be each day.

  • Lisa August 31, 2011 (10:33 am)

    Our daughter is also provided with an Orca card, but we do not feel it is the obligation of the school district to provide her transportation. we live far enough away that she qualifies for an Orca card. What scares us is the fact that she will be crossing 35th & Thistle to get to the Metro bus to come home since my husband and I will still be at work we will not be able to provide her transportation and the Metro bus is the best option instead of walking 2.0 miles to school. Wish we could find other families near us using Metro going to Denny.

  • Tiffany September 6, 2011 (11:04 am)

    Ok here is my dillema I have four children in SPS one in High School, 2 in Middle School, and 1 in elem., So I have 4 schools I am going to because they split up my Middle school kids one at Denny and One at Madison. So the one at Madison which is much further away from us gets the yellow bus trans., the other one at Denny was eligible in March for the Yellow bus and now in August was sent a Metro pass. So i called transportation because I do live off of a main highway so I believed they had made a mistake when I called them to address the issue I spoke with a gentleman by the name of Gary who is supposed to be the one that organizes transportation for Denny Middle school he then told me there is a yellow bus stop 1 block away from my house but that my son could not ride it when I explained to him that I fear for his safety because of the problems with other kids last year, he said well I don’t know what to tell you he is now eligible for the Orca card and that the reason he can not walk a block away to catch the bus and so I asked to speak with a supervisor who could explain to me why my son could not just walk a block away and catch the school bus because he couldn’t explain that to me he said he would have to give the supervisor the message and I could not personally contact his supervisor, and this was a week ago I have yet to hear back from them and am so frustrated with this. Then I got a letter two days ago for my 7 yr old daughter who they want to drop off to walk .7 miles alone in a high crime area when if they went approx. 2 blocks down it would possibly be safer for her to walk. I don’t know what to do at this point they are not listening to what I have to say I need help? so if anyone has any suggestions on how to get somewhere with these people at transportation it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you much.

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