Tag Archives: School Bus Transportation with Special Needs

How To Start A Student Transportation Business

In today’s world, parents struggle to find a balance between the conflicting schedules of their children and their own. A child’s daily schedule might include being picked and dropped from pre-school.

Later in the day, the child might need to go for extra activities like Sports, arts or language classes. The different timings and locations make it hard for busy parents to pick and drop them from school and from the other varied activities.

Read Also: 9 Ways To Reduce School Bus Transportation Costs

A solution to this wide-spread problem would be a trusted and viable source of transport which would reach the children to various places at the right times and bring them back home safely.

This type of service would be of great help to working parents who cannot take time off to take their children around.

1. Business Plan

Starting a children’s transport business is like running any other business. The business involves more than picking up and dropping children.

The key to success lies in marketing the idea and finding the right users. A research will reveal the markets that can be tapped for business.

The idea or motive behind starting a business should be the lifeline of the business. In children’s transportation business is customer and service driven.


A service that offers something different, from what the specific or similar industry do, will make it stand apart.

A plan detailing what ages and areas are to be served, hours of operation, fee structure, finances have to be drawn. A well written business plan will serve as a reference for future checks throughout the year.

Structure of the business will depend on whether it is a partnership or sole proprietorship. Once the structure is finalized local and state licenses, tax identification numbers and other legal requirements have to be applied for.

Sufficient capital is required to pay expenses until the business becomes profitable. These funds come from own savings, friends or private investors. Bank loans can be availed to start the business.

When executing you enter the market in a low or medium key. It can be further expanded depending on the response.

Workspace can be one’s home or space shared with another business or a leased office.  Customer is the key to any business.

2. Objective

The objective of a transportation business catering to children should be to provide a safe and convenient method of transportation. It should be licensed, reliable and available to parents at reasonable prices.

The aim of the business is service. The children’s transportation business is service driven offering maximum satisfaction to customers. The priority is to become a trusted source for parents to rely on.

3. Market

Children’s transportation service is required and highly essential for any child activity that does not have its own form of transport.

Day-care facilities, pre-school, activity centers, recreational arena that do not provide transport facilities can be targeted for business.

Periodical agreements with them will assure a minimum number of children availing this service.

The market should be focused on the middle class working parents, both single and dual. This segment of the population is found to be the most active and so are their children.

The working parents are interested in activities to keep their children occupied. Their children avail day-care services summer schools and sports activities.

Households with children under the age of 18 have to be targeted. The Organizational focus should be on children. Their safety and welfare should be the priority.

Densely populated residential areas which are in proximity to the day cares or activity centers can be identified as the area of operation. A specified radius in kilometers can be fixed within which the transport can be used.

4. Promotion

Formal introduction letters giving an explanation of the services provided are to be mailed. A request to respond if interested is to be included.

The letters can be sent to households in the vicinity identified for operation. They can be sent to day-care owners, pre-schools, recreational activity centers.

The brochure must include operational information required by the clients. It should include the features and benefits of using the service.

Rules and regulations, hours and rates should also be mentioned in detail. Description of your qualifications, the process of selection of drivers, reliability and safety of vehicles can be mentioned.

Advertisements can be inserted in the local publications. As a part of personal selling, parents and schools in the community can be made aware of the existence of the intended service.

Creating special offers for the first time users and repeat customers can ensure customer loyalty.

5. Vehicle Selection

The type and size of the vehicle needed is to be decided initially. Mini-vans are easy to maneuver in traffic but the number of seats may be limited. Small buses require special operating licenses but can carry more passengers.

Mini-vans which meet the federal safety standards are a good option to ply in populated areas.

Child safety features of seat belts, safety locks, shoulder harnesses and dual airbags are a must and should be provided in the vans.

Stringent maintenance schedules have to be adhered to ensure that the vehicles are safe and reliable to travel.

Read Also: School Students Using Public Transportation – Pros and Cons

GPS units and radio communication equipment in the vehicle would be an added advantage. If special needs children are served handicap capable vehicles would be needed.

6. Staff

Every business has two main aspects. One is the customer and the other the employee. If attractive benefits are offered to employees they will take care of the customers.

If interesting options are provided to customers they will use the service which leads to increase in profits.

If the business has to run smoothly, dedicated employees should be hired. Hiring good people will increase productivity.

They will cause less trouble. It is important that they are paid on time, appreciated in public and reprimanded in private.

In a children’s transportation business the driver is the main employee. He is the one in constant interaction with the children, their parents and the owners of the business. So hiring competent drivers is the first step to ensure success.

Drivers with a valid chauffeur’s driving license are to be recruited. A background check has to be done. They should have had previous driving experience withexcellent track records.

They must have a First aid and CPR certificate. They must be genuinely interested in the care and welfare of children.

Other employees too should be chosen carefully as they are the ones who talk to customers. They should be easily available and should make the customer feel important. They should be capable to respond to requests as soon as possible.

Employee training and monitoring are very critical to providing an excellent service to customers. Background checks are done for all employees. All employees have to be trained in customer service and office procedures.

Drivers need to work with parents while establishing routes. They have to keep a detailed record of pick-ups and drop-offs. A time log, records of distance and fuel consumption are essential.

 They have to have good time management to be punctual at all times. They have to be patient with children. They should be able to handle the pressure of traffic outside and also the screaming and noisy kids inside the vehicle.

Periodic feedback from the users is to be sought to ensure that the service is to the satisfaction of the customer. Any shortcomings need to be addressed with minimal delays.

Checking constantly or on a daily basis with the drivers and employees on what they require to perform better is essential. Resources have to be provided so that they can to do their job most effectively.

7. Vehicle Utilization

The vehicles can be utilized to transport children during the peak times – early morning 7-8am, mid-afternoon 11-12 and evening 3-5pm. Routes can be charted taking into account the number of children and destinations.

During non-peak hours administrative and marketing work can be done. The vehicles can be used to run emergency trips to clinics with sick children or for prior appointments.

8. Fee Structure

Rate schedules should be handed over to parents once they have enrolled their ward for the service. Detailed rates for scheduled and un-scheduled one-way trips and round trips and for extra miles have to be shown on the rate schedule. Any discounts for siblings and incentives of extra rides have to be mentioned.

Fees should be taken in advance. Payment can be made in cash or by cheque. Credit cards can be accepted if required.

9. Operating Expenses

A detailed record of day to day expenses has to be maintained. A competent accountant can keep track of the progress and problems of the business in real time.


In addition to the wages of the staff, the budget should include the cost of maintenance of the vehicle, regular cleaning charges of vehicles and fuel costs.

10. Special Requirement

Some states stipulate other requirements to operate in their areas.

Safety concerns require photo identities of the children. The necessary equipment and camera to create the ID cards will be required.

Liability insurance to cover vehicles, employees and passengers are required.

A thorough screening for drugs and background check for all employees including drivers have to be done.

Fingerprint clearance is required by many states if working with children. This is to ensure that the employees are not a threat to the safety of the children.

The business allows the advantage of being your own boss.  The service offered is highly needed and appreciated. The business is ideal for at-home parents and those who love children or special needs children.

Read Also: Pros And Cons of Outsourcing School Transportation

The business can be expanded if required. At the beginning it would be advisable to concentrate on hiring the right people. Later on, when a good customer base has been formed and goodwill is attained, professionals can be hired and advanced technology can be used to manage the business.

The adverse factors are driving in bad weather, high insurance rates and distractions from boisterous children.

A friendly and efficient child transportation system will offer parents the comfort of knowing that their children are in the best hands.

10 Reasons Why Eco Friendly School Buses Are Common In USA

School buses are the main mode of transportation of students to and from school. Approximately half a million buses transport around 25 million students each day of the school year in the USA.

Buses transport an average of 50 students as opposed to a passenger car which on an average transports only 2 students per car. School buses thus save billions of gallons of fuel and a proportionate amount of dollars.

Majority of the buses are fuelled by diesel. Diesel emissions and its effect on health and environment are of major concern around the world.

The environment protection agency (EPA) in US has bought in regulations for bus emissions to reduce pollution in the environment.  This in turn has made school authorities look for other viable eco-friendly options.

Read Also: Electric School Buses – Another Big Leap for the World to Go Green

Reasons why school buses are eco-friendly:

1. Emission Standards By EPA

Diesel emissions are highly toxic and pollute the environment.

Particulate matter includes small solid or liquid particles found suspended in the air. Inhaling this air is hazardous to drivers and students cause breathing problems.

Nitrogen oxide emissions when mixed with moisture and air make tiny particles when inhaled cause bronchitis or heart disease. Carbon monoxide or green-house gas absorbed in large quantities might prove lethal. They replace the oxygen in the red blood cells. Non-methane hydro-carbons produce smog.


To circumvent these hazards to human health and environment, the EPA in conjunction with school bus manufacturers set higher emission level standards.

Schools had to adopt ways to comply with these stringent emission standards for their buses.Using alternative fuel instead of diesel helped in promoting cleaner air and being eco-friendly.

2. Environmental Harm

Emissions from diesel vehicles are harmful to humans, animals, flora and fauna, vegetation and the air in general. Emissions from diesel exhaust cause smog, haze, acid rain and other pollutants in the air.

School buses mainly travel through busy roads, crowded cities, and residential areas and school zones. They make numerous trips, circulating in and out of avenues, exposing many people to the risk of inhaling the fumes.

Large numbers of school buses shifting to alternative fuel will help to reduce these emissions to a zero level. This in turn will leave the environment and the air cleaner. Replacement of fossil fuels with alternative fuels, reduce use of earth’s natural resources which takes years to replenish.

3. Health Hazard

Breathing in diesel fumes leads to health problems like asthma, allergies and infections. Federal agencies have classified the emissions as a probable carcinogen. The students taking school buses were found to breathe in more particulates than students who used other means of transport.

The air inside the school bus is found to be polluted than the air outside. The air inside is noxious by the frequent opening and closing of the doors. The bus emits pollutants into the air while idling.

Children breathe faster than adults and their lungs are not fully developed. The particles inhaled settle in the airways and cause long term breathing difficulties.

Low sulphur content diesel lowers the emission rate by 85%.  Minimal limited exposure to this can be harmful.

This one most important factor has lead to usage of alternative fuel.

4. Alternative Fuel

The most commonly used alternative to diesel is the low-level emission fuel propane. CNG and gasoline are also low-level emission fuels. The current best alternative is Electric buses.

Since 2006 when EPA lowered emission levels, a good percentage of school buses started using propane as the fuel. The price of propane as compared to diesel was found to be 5 times cheaper. An excise tax rebate of 50 cents per gallon is applicable on propane. The fuel cost reduced considerably.

CNG is cheaper and a considered option. CNG operated buses perform in comparison with diesel vehicles with the additional benefit of reduced emissions. Lesser availability and mileage are its drawback. The safety factor in the event of an accident has placed it on the lower rung of options.

Electric buses are expensive to purchase but cheaper to run. They are more efficient than conventional buses. Their drawback is the short driving range and long charging time.

Read Also: How Electric School Buses Can Save Millions for School Districts

Improved performance, reductions in battery costs and longer driving ranges have currently made electric buses a viable option.  A study shows that if all school buses in America are replaced with electric buses, an average emission of 5 million tones of green house gases can be prevented.

5. Economies of Alternative Fuel Buses

The price of a full propane bus is about $4000 more than a diesel bus. But given the long term use of a bus for an average of 15 years there still saving approximately $100,000 in running costs. Long term usage of buses is of primary concern to schools.

Electric buses are expensive to buy, but proves cost effective over the life-time of the bus, Use of electric buses can save fuel and maintenance expenses. Power for these buses can be tapped from renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, geo-thermal etc.

Energy efficient and low emissions solutions become viable only over a time period. Initial costs involved being higher, EPA has suggested retrofitting and up-gradation of existing vehicles. Bus manufacturers advocate use of clean diesel which emits 85% less gases. The diesel buses are less expensive, low maintenance and long life machines.

6. Noise Pollution

Buses using alternative fuel have quieter engines. Electric buses are swift and noise free while running. The students inside the bus, while speaking to one another, do not have to shout above the engine sound. Buses while running through residential areas do not pollute or disturb the neighborhood.

7. Idling Pollution

Green-house gases are released by idling vehicles which pollute the air. Idling of school buses is inevitable and happens frequently in traffic jams and at bus-stops. The pollutants and carbon monoxide gases emitted into the air are harmful to the drivers, students and the general public.

A new bus parked next to an idling old bus can also have high levels of diesel exhaust fumes.

Schools should chart bus routes minimizing idle time and avoiding major traffic blocks. They should allow free flow of buses from the bus parking lot in school where the majority of time is spent idling.

 Alternative fuel has helped reduce this considerably.

8. Power Company Assistance

Some of the schools have electric buses to transport their students. Electric buses are about three times more expensive than a conventional bus. This is prohibitive for most of the school districts.

In some towns in USA, schools have purchased buses from the local utility electric company.  In summer when the schools are closed, the utility company gets to use the buses. The buses are plugged into the grid and used to store surplus power for use whenever required.

This arrangement benefitted both. The schools saved around one third the cost of the bus and with an additional grant they were able to purchase an electric bus at almost the same price of a conventional diesel bus.

This model is an incentive for the schools to use eco-friendly transport.

9. EPA Assistance

Schools having old buses which do not comply to current emission standards can be retrofitted with newer engines to suit the fuel they propose to use. EPA and some school bus manufacturers jointly provide help to upgrade engines. They assist and offer rebates to schools that cannot afford to change their fleet at one go.

Since electric buses and propane buses are expensive, EPA has suggested use of clean diesel technology. The devices can be refitted with filters or devices to capture diesel particles or direct fired heaters to reduce idling.

10. Go Yellow, Go Green Campaign By NSTA (National School Transportation Authority)

This campaign encourages use of eco-friendly buses. Reducing carbon emissions and usage of fossil fuel is the main aim. It advocates use of cleaner school buses by replacing, retrofitting and idle minimization.

NSTA has instituted an annual award to a leader in the school bus industry to recognize their efforts and commitment to environmental factors. NSTA provides ample help to school bus operators to go green

Read Also: Electric Buses – Where Do We Stand Now

School buses reduce the number of cars on the roads going up and down to drop and pick children from school. This by itself reduces pollution on the roads. In addition to this, use of non-diesel buses help to reduce the emissions to zero levels resulting in a pollution free environment.

Electric school buses are seen as the future of eco-friendly transportation. Technological developments and citizen awareness of environmental pollution has urged the US to adopt eco friendly policies. By 2030 they expect to have zero emission traffic and cleaner air.

Managing Special Needs Students On Field Trips – Complete Guide

Field trips are immense and enriching, teaching the child what goes on outside the classroom is of great educational value. They learn important skills such as safety, social interactions and flexibility.

Planning and executing a field trip for special needs students is a daunting task. Innumerable factors have to be considered for the trip to be safe, smooth and enjoyable.

Managing special need students on field-trip rests solely on prior planning and preparation. Taking them on field-trips becomes stress-free for both child and teacher when this is done in detail.

Read Also: Guidelines for Transportation of Students with Special Needs

1. Planning

1. Deciding on a suitable location

A location should be thoughtfully chosen to derive the maximum benefit.  Children going on field-trips are of different ages and in different stages of development. So locations which suit their interest and aptitude need to be chosen.

Special needs students have shorter attention spans. They might not be able to sit for long in buses. The trip duration will have to be limited to a few hours as day-long trips might tire them. A location where all students can go has to be selected.

Places where they can have real time visual and physical experience like farms, zoos and gardens will be safe and interesting options. Activity -oriented field trips to science centers where they can interact with simple equipment should be considered.


These centers allow them to touch, feel and experience something new. Trips to supermarkets, grocery stores or book shops may be considered depending on the student capabilities.

2. Obtaining required permits

School district administrators need to approve of the trip. They need to assure that the trip is age appropriate, safe and enhances the curriculum. Schools have to adhere to regulations and policies stipulated by them.

3. Pre-visit to the location

It would be ideal if the school authority or concerned teacher could visit the locale prior to scheduling the trip. An assessment of the child-friendly facilities available at the place can be done.

Availability of the wheel-chair ramps, easy bathroom access, toilet paper, food stalls for handicapped is to be checked. Any addition in services required, like requests for extra wheel-chair etc could be made on this visit. This would ensure that everything will be in place, on arrival, on the day of the trip.

4. Locality assessment

Awareness of the police stations, hospitals, Para-medical services and fire stations around the location of field-trips is necessary. The teachers on duty should be provided with a list of essential services and their contact telephone numbers nearest to the place of the trip.

This will prove extremely useful in case of emergency. In the event of any mishap, they can contact the services directly instead of waiting for help from the school. This will save time and ensure quick and prompt action.

5. Parent approval

Parents are informed of the nature of the trip, time and date. A written approval from the parent has to be obtained for their ward to be included in the trip.

2. Accompanying staff

1. 1:1 ratio:

As the needs of special children vary, each child has to be given constant individual attention. It is suggested that on field trips it would be ideal to have a one-on-one aide i.e. a teacher for each student.

This will make the child feel comfortable. The teacher will be relieved of monitoring an entire group. Undue strain causes both children and teacher to be stressed.

2. Parents

Parents can be asked if they would like to escort their wards. This option would be highly beneficial to all. Children feel more secure with their parents in an unfamiliar environment. This reduces child distress. Parent experience the safety of the child. This reduces their anxiety.

Parents can be asked if they would like to escort their wards. This option would be highly beneficial to all. Children feel more secure with their parents in an unfamiliar environment. This reduces child distress. Parent experience the safety of the child. This reduces their anxiety.

Parents can be asked if they would like to escort their wards. This option would be highly beneficial to all. Children feel more secure with their parents in an unfamiliar environment. This reduces child distress. Parent experience the safety of the child. This reduces their anxiety.

Parents can be asked if they would like to escort their wards. This option would be highly beneficial to all. Children feel more secure with their parents in an unfamiliar environment. This reduces child distress. Parent experience the safety of the child. This reduces their anxiety.

3. Volunteers and Buddy program

Some schools run buddy programs. A student, volunteer or teacher is assigned to the special need child as his/her buddy. The buddy spends time with the child, be-friends them and understand their needs and earn their trust.

A buddy as an escort will make the child feel safe, secure and comfortable. Community welfare volunteers can be requested for their services if necessary.

4. Nurse

A qualified school nurse has to be in attendance on the trip. First-aid essentials are a must. Medications for insect bites, allergies etc have to be ensured. Nutritional needs of the children are of concern and should be provided.

Read Also: 10 FAQs About Transporting Students With Special Needs

3. Consolidated Data Sheet

1.Student database

A comprehensive database with the list of special needs children on the field-trip is prepared. This will list the names, ages, parents name and address, contact numbers and emergency numbers. In addition to this, each child’s specific disabilities are listed.

2. Dietary needs

Pre-caution has to be taken while providing the children with the food and drinks especially from public outlets. Special needs students have specific diets to be followed.

Anything out of the norm might upset their systems and result in uneasiness. It would be better if the children could bring their food packs from home. This would help in preventing the children contracting food and water-borne diseases.

3. Food allergies

The data-base should list specific food allergies of the students. In instances where the school decides to provide the meals, this has to be taken into account.

The data-base should list specific food allergies of the students. In instances where the school decides to provide the meals, this has to be taken into account.

4. Insect allergies

The parents should inform the school of any allergy their child is prone to like insect bites, grass, hay etc. The school takes precaution to keep the child away from such circumstances.

The parents should inform the school of any allergy their child is prone to like insect bites, grass, hay etc. The school takes precaution to keep the child away from such circumstances.

The copy is given to all accompanying the students on the trip – teachers, escorts, nurses and bus drivers. A copy is left at the school.

Parents, if not accompanying, are given the telephone numbers of the teachers and bus drivers on the trip.

4. Preparation

1. Special needs children

Special needs students often do not feel comfortable when they are faced with a new environment. They are used to set timetables and regulated normal daily routines.

They find it difficult when their day to day schedules are disrupted. They do not know how to face situations alien to them. So preparing them for a field trip is the key to reducing their anxiety.

A pictorial itinerary of the trip can be shown to them.  A step by step enactment of how they will arrive at each step and how they have to behave at each stage would be helpful.

Answering queries from them will allay their fears. Familiarizing them for a week leading to the trip would help to reduce their anxiety and discomfort.

The student has to be prepared for the whole day of the trip. They have to be taught to request breaks and to convey discomfort.

The students have to be told who their escort or buddy would be. Pictures of them can be shown. They have to be educated on what the buddy/escort would do for them.

The students will have to be rewarded throughout the trip to motivate them. Positive reinforcement techniques will have to be applied before and after the trip.

2. Parents

Parents of special need children are anxious about them being taken to places outside the school environs. They are called to school and apprised of the entire trip details.

They are educated on how the trip will give their ward a different learning experience. This will enable the parent to mentally prepare the child for his forth coming trip.

Parents can send the child’s favorite snack which he/she can eat without being messy. Plenty of water should be provided.

5. Safety aspects

1. Transportation

Special needs students on a field trip should be transported only by school transport. Children should not be transported in private cars.

2. Identity tags

The children should be tagged with identity badges or bracelets showing their identity and contact details.

No amount of planning can eliminate the challenge of taking special need children on fieldtrips. The threshold level of special needs children is lower than normal. Their attitudes and moods change fast.

Read Also: How to Transport Special Needs Students on School Bus

Things may not work out as planned and changes need to be allowed. Some students run away, throw tantrums when they are under stress. These significant issues will make it complicated for the teachers. Hence fluidity in plans is required.

Field trips and special need children seem to be an impossible combination. Proper planning, preparation and an open mind can tremendously help in organizing safe and productive field-trips for special needs students.

How School Bus Drivers Can Protect Special Needs Students From Getting Bullied

Bullying happens everywhere, but when it occurs in school buses it can be more dangerous because it is not possible for the child to move to a safer place.

A better understanding of bullying in school buses makes it possible to find or devise helpful solutions and protect the special needs students from being harmed by the bullies.

Read Also: 10 FAQs About Transporting Students With Special Needs

Why Bullies Often Choose the Bus

The school bus is the right place for bullies that want to pick on their peers. It is not an easy task to supervise the activities of every student at all times, especially if the bus driver is the only adult present in the bus.


When they are in the school bus, the special needs children cannot leave the situation, seek help, or protect themselves. Bullies know that nobody can quickly interfere and prevent them from bullying.

This encourages them to target helpless children that ride the school bus with them every day. This puts special needs children in a very vulnerable situation.

Signs of Bullying In School Bus

Students who are victims of bullying often are unwilling to seek help from adults. However, it is easy to make out from the common symptoms that many of them might display.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that all kids may react in the same manner when subjected to bullying and the reactions could be mild or severe.

  • Fear of riding the school bus or going to school
  • Looking for reasons to avoid travelling on the school bus
  • Coming to school or going back home with ripped clothes, losing things, or any other sign of abuse
  • Symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks that occur prior to boarding the school bus or in the mornings when getting ready to go on school days
  • Talking about a friend that is being bullied or referring to themselves being bullied
  • Avoiding similar situations, for example riding in cars along with many people

Read Also: Guidelines for Transportation of Students with Special Needs

Special Needs Children Riding the School Bus

Among children with disabilities, those suffer from cerebral palsy are often bullied more than other special needs kids.

As these kids are especially vulnerable when riding the school bus, drivers have a key role to play in ensuring their safety on a daily basis. In fact, bus drivers can do a lot to prevent bullying.

Children suffering from cerebral palsy exhibit disabilities that vary from mild or moderate to severe. Such children often look different and may even find it difficult to get on to or off the school bus.

Children with severe disabilities may ride on a bus that is specially designed, but many mildly disabled children choose to ride with the normal kids. As their looks and movement are different, bullies often target these kids.


The school bus may turn out to be a dangerous place for bully victims because they cannot escape and the bus driver cannot monitor everything that is going on behind him/her and stop the school bus for taking action.

How Can School Bus Drivers Protect Needs Students from Bullying

School staff, school admin, drivers, and parents are equally responsible for ensuring that special needs children are not bullied, but when they are riding the school bus the onus is on the driver.

Therefore, it is important to provide anti-bullying training to bus drivers. Apart from the training they receive and being part of the school-wide procedures and policies involving bullying, bus drivers can do a few other things and protect the special needs passengers:

Read Also: 15 Effective Special-Needs Training Tips For School Bus Driver

1. Stop the bus safely so that they can react to bullying

When drivers sense that some random child is being bullied, they should stop the school bus at a safe place and then take assertive action. However, it is important that they remain calm.

2. Call the bully by his/her name

To stop bullying, the first action to be taken in most of the cases is approaching the bully in a calm manner and using his/her name to warn them verbally.

3. Call the officer in charge

If the verbal warning does not work, drivers should call the concerned officer in the school transportation department. This often helps to stop the bully.

4. Report all instances of bullying

It is of utmost importance that bus drivers report all incidents to authorities through the procedure outlined in the school’s policy. The availability of records makes it easy to handle the problem if it persists.

5. Drivers should get involved in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)

Drivers who take special needs kids to and from school on the bus should be made part of IEP meetings.

This will enable them to have a better understanding as to how they should deal with special needs kids, and the care to be provided as a person involved in their lives on a daily basis.

6. Follow clear and simple rules

School bus drivers should specify and follow some rules so that bullying does not happen during the ride to and from the school.

They should enforce these rules calmly and indicate as to what consequences the bullies will face if they fail to follow the rules. This goes a long way in preventing negative behaviours in the bus.

7. Reinforce positive behaviours

The best way to promote positive behaviours is by recognizing good deeds. Drivers should make an effort to get to know the students they are taking to and from school on a daily basis. This helps to foster better behaviours and positive relationships.

8. Ask for a paraprofessional in the bus or a camera system, as needed

If the bullying problem persists and the driver is not able to manage alone, additional steps may be required to be taken to keep the special needs student safe. The presence of a paraprofessional in the bus might be helpful in protecting the differently abled students.

A camera might also be helpful, but these solutions come with a cost. Schools can evaluate the current status and decide on the best possible option. Ensuring maximum protection to the special needs children should be the ultimate goal of the concerned authorities.

Read Also: How School Bus Drivers Can Help Protect Disabled Children

Final Thoughts

Image Credits: AngelSense

Bullying on school buses is actually a serious problem and bus drivers can contribute a lot to prevent the same. There is no doubt that they have to drive safely, but they also should create and maintain a positive and safe environment.

If a bus driver feels that he/she is not adequately equipped to deal with the problem of bus bullying, then they should talk to concerned authorities and get trained in dealing with special needs children and implementing anti-bullying policies.

How to respond to bullying on the school bus? Learn about the different practices drivers can take to protect special needs students from getting bullied. school-bus-drivers-protect-special-needs-students-bullied

How to respond to bullying on the school bus? Learn about the different practices drivers can take to protect special needs students from getting bullied. school-bus-drivers-protect-special-needs-students-bullied

15 Effective Special-Needs Training Tips For School Bus Driver

Regional rules require that students with special needs should be transported only by those who are specifically trained to provide the service. This is because the whole process is quite a difficult one which involves many different activities.

Here are some of the activities:
•    Loading and unloading students using specific procedures
•    Securing student using a wheelchair
•    Knowledge of operating specific equipment
•    Proper communication with students and concerned people
•    Evacuation of students in an emergency
•    Knowledge of regional and state laws pertaining to the transport of students with special needs or disabilities, etc.

Every driver and bus attendants should have these sort of training so that they can transport students with special needs in a secured way and with utmost care to and from school.

Below are 15 tips for school bus drivers to transport students with special needs.


  1. The first point that you can start with is you can search for ‘transporting students with disabilities’ in Google. The list that is thrown up would contain many websites that can provide help in this direction.
  2. Different states have published their own training manuals on the web. You can use any of these to define a starting point for your training and design program that suits your needs.
  3. One useful resource where you can spot an effective special needs driver training program is the NST specifications and Procedures manual. This can be downloaded from www.ncstonline.org.
  4. Your training guidelines for drivers transporting students with disabilities should be based on those that are dictated by your district policies.


    They should also be based on the regional and state legislation on the matter. This would tell the drivers and attendants the need for this kind of training.

  5. It is necessary to familiarize the drivers and attendants with the characteristics that pertain to the different disabilities so that they are able to identify them easily. This is likely to make the training more effective for them.
  6. Companies that manufacture equipment such as the wheelchair that is required to transport children with special needs provide training on different aspects such as loading the wheelchair on to the bus and securing it.


    It is essential to subject the drivers and attendants to such training every time whenever there is a new release of the product and/or its securement systems to keep them updated.

  7. The NHTS Administration has published many manuals to describe the use of child restraint systems in school buses. It is a good idea to become familiar with these during the driver and attendant training sessions.
  8. Your special education department is likely to contain resources that teach drivers and attendants how to control the behaviour of children with special needs during school bus rides.
  9. For drivers and attendants to become good at emergency evacuation procedures, it is important to conduct mock drills at timely intervals with help from the local fire department. This would provide them with first-hand knowledge as to how children with special needs have to be handled during emergency situations.
  10. Drivers and attendants have to be taught to keep specific information regarding students with special needs confidential. They have to be aware of the student’s medical needs if any and should be subjected to sensitivity training to best appreciate the condition of the student.


    These are important topics that have to be present in the training manuals. At this stage, the drivers and attendants have to be reasonably familiar with the line of practice that is followed in the specific district.

  11. Every training session should be documented for future reference. These documents should find an appropriate place in the drivers’ and attendants’ training files.
  12. The training program should be one such that it draws from the experience of the training veterans in the field of transportation of students with special needs.


    This does not mean that the new trainers can be left out. They will bring in their own expertise to the table. They should be asked to train the drivers and attendants about the requirements they envision in the future for transportation of students with special needs. As of now, there is a lot of precious information in this field that is waiting to be shared.

  13. It is important for drivers and attendants to remain updated about the latest procedure, best practices and incorporate new ideas and information.


    Trained drivers and attendants should be readers of school publications that cover the needs of students with disabilities.

  14. To make the training more effective, it is the duty of the trainers to make the environment more conducive to learning. The learning environment should be professional for the best outcomes after the training sessions.
  15. Bus drivers and attendants should be aware of student medical emergencies that may occur. They will have to be trained to pull over and call 911, stay calm, stay with the student during the medical emergency, lend emotional support to the student and correctly document the incident.


Bus drivers and attendants that transport children with disabilities shoulder a great responsibility. It can be done safely and effectively only when the drivers and attendants carry out the job in a very professional manner.

For this, the training has to be very effective. Drivers and attendants that are well trained provide the safest means of transport for children with special needs.

Guidelines for Transportation of Students with Special Needs

The school administration systems have to ensure that children with special needs are transported in a safe manner in the approved transportation of the school, which, in many cases, is the school bus.

The school transportation should be planned and organized in such a manner that it provides proper and adequate support to children with special needs.

This article puts down some guidelines that need to be followed for students with special needs.

It is to be noted that the staff has to be trained appropriately, aides and nurses have to be provided as per the requirement, there has to be a written emergency evacuation plan, and there should exist a detailed infection control package.

Students with Special Needs and Their Transportation

A student’s individual needs form the main consideration in deciding whether the student can use the same transportation provided to those students without disabilities. 

For children to receive special education services, it is important to have a transportation representative who would provide the following recommendations as regards the bus transportation facilities of the school:

  • The type of the vehicle that the student can ride
  • The length of the ride, pick-up and drop-off times
  • Temperature conditions during cold weather
  • An emergency communication system to be present in the bus if required
  • Training and skills to be provided to the driver and bus attendant

Wheelchairs for Children with Special Needs

Wheelchairs are frequently used as the mode of transport on the school bus for children with different special needs. However, it is important that certified transit wheelchair has to be used for the purpose.

This is the type of wheelchair that meets the design and performance requirements. Such wheelchairs can also be used by the occupants while travelling in a motor vehicle. The school administration can seek help from rehabilitation therapists to identify certified transit wheelchairs.

Recommendations for occupant securement on a school bus:

  1. Any child with a special need that can be moved from a special seating device should be transferred to a child restraint system (compliant with standards) for transportation.



    The seat should be facing forward and occupant restraints should be dynamically tested for such a seat at the manufacturer’s end.

    In case the seat is unoccupied, it should be carefully fastened so that it does not become a projectile in the wake of a sudden stop or crash and cause danger to the occupants.

  2. Passenger seats with a restraint system should be fitted with a frame that conforms to laid-out standards. The school administration should consult these points with the bus manufacturer when the order is placed for the school bus or when it is retrofitted at a later point in time.
  3. Children weighing less than 50 pounds should be secured in an appropriate safety vest or child restraint system that conforms to the laid-out standards.
  4. A safety vest or a child restraint system should be installed only according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Such a system should not be placed on a seat next to the emergency exit on a school bus.
  5. Seats that are used to transport children that are less than one year old or weighing less than 20 pounds should be attached to the seat only in a rear-facing manner.



    If a child weighs 20 pounds before 1 year of age, rear-facing restraints meant for greater weights should be considered.

  6. Cart-type units, stroller devices, three-wheeled devices, etc., cannot be used as occupied transport in a school bus. In case such a device is approved by a manufacturer after specific impact tests, they have to be installed only according to the specifications laid out by the manufacturer. 
  7. Wheelchairs should be secured to the floor of the bus with specific fastening devices.  The fasteners are approved only after dynamic testing is done on them with the help of dummies and must have the capability of restraining the wheelchair. The occupant is restrained to the wheelchair using another separate device.
  8. Any plastic or metal trays that are attached to the wheelchair should be unfastened before loading the wheelchair and should be separately secured during the transport.
  9. For every wheelchair-borne passenger, the occupant restraint system used should be tested for specified force conditions separately for upper and lower torsos.
  10. If liquid oxygen is to be transported on the school bus, care should be taken to mount the cylinder securely and fastened in a manner such that it prevents damage and exposure to high heat. An appropriate sign should also be placed on the bus.

Additional Recommendations

#1: When children with tracheotomies travel on the bus, a nurse or aide with sufficient medical training should be on board the bus to provide medical assistance in case of emergencies.

#2: The school transport representative should also take part in the medical procedures training required for students with special needs. They should be adequately trained with the latest programs which will ensure that they provide the latest as far as the care is concerned.

#3: The guardian of the ward with special needs should be kept informed of all the transportation needs and specifications.

#4: Both the guardian of the child with special needs and the bus driver should be kept informed of all the specific needs during the transportation of the child.

#5: For every student with special needs, a copy of the emergency medical card should be present on the bus.

#6: There should be enough stocks of supplies that ensure precaution and spread of infections in the bus.

#7: There should be a written plan for emergency evacuation plans and the staff should be adequately trained for the same through dummy evacuation drills.

To conclude, it is the responsibility of the school administration system to obtain periodically updated information on restraint systems for children with special needs from the relevant authorities and implement the same.


6 Q&A on Transporting Students with Special Needs


Students with special needs often become side-lined in measures to ensure child safety in schools, particularly in school bus transportation. While the safety measures tend to generalize the needs of all the students under one umbrella and when efforts on safety compliance are implemented, these children receive the last loaf.

Some might be wondering if there is any justifiable need to differentiate the safety measure efforts adopted in the majority of the children and those geared for specially-challenged children.

Of course, there are several such reasons and it would be better to know a few of them in particular.

1. Do they require special provisions in the school bus?

Normally, giving special provisions can isolate  the special needs children. However, if the situation warrants the need for one, like the use of a wheel chair for the physically challenged children, then it might be wise to accommodate the use of one. Support from the staff and other kids can help them to build their confidence even though they are treated differently. 

2. How to teach them safety rules and regulations?

Teaching safety rules on school bus transportation requires a little effort and concern from the teachers and parents alike. Game videos and mock traffic parks might not always work for them. Teachers can instead opt to teach them simple rules customised for their learning styles and patterns. Peer learning is another tried and tested method which has proved successful in many instances.

3. How to communicate with them efficiently?

Communication is an important factor while transporting children with special needs. The tone, language and the mannerism all need to be adjusted to accommodate the physical and emotional needs of such children. For example, children with vision, hearing or cognitive difficulties might need special assistance to have the instructions clear. Talking to such children will not help in any way. The support staff should be able to connect with these children with their tone, language and behaviour. Instructions on school bus safety rules should be conveyed to these children in a simple and easy manner.  Step by step instructions will prove helpful. Use images and gestures to teach and have them displayed on buses for faster communication.

4. Should staff be educated on their condition?

A simple change in approach of the staff can formulate better school bus transportation for these kids. With the help of appropriate training, communication method of school bus staff can be altered to suit the needs and connect better with them. It would be ideal for school authorities to incorporate lessons on transportation safety for children with special needs. And these lessons can also be included in the general training of drivers and support staff on traffic rules and regulations. 

5. Does it require any behavioural changes from staff and other students in school bus?

Special needs children face various upsetting situations. However, the general approach of the society towards these kids is  accommodating and appreciative. It would be wiser to train the staff on providing special care for such children. Apart from the school bus staff, other students should also be taught to respect and treat these children with empathy. A sympathetic or bullying attitude can disrupt their confidence levels to lead a normal life. 

Maintaining eye contact with such kids make communication easier. Simply kneel down when needed to maintain eye contact and you can witness the difference. Taking a bossy attitude and having such non-verbal body cues doesn’t help you to create a satisfactory rapport with them. 

6. Will it be beneficial for them to have a personal aide or help while on the ride?

Children with special needs tend to be confident when they do their chores independently. However, things differ while on a school bus. Consider, for instance, a physically challenged student seeking assistance of the driver while on the school bus. It might be nearly impossible for them to approach the driver or supporting staff on a moving vehicle. Having a personal aide in special needs school transportation is advisable in such cases. Peer support and buddies can also be utilized to overcome such situations.