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Questions to Ask about School Bus Transportation Services
Many people don't realize that school bus services are sometimes provided by private companies contracted for this purpose. If you're in a position where you have to hire such a company, either because you need to rent a chartered bus or make some kind of travel arrangements, it's likely you've never done this before, so you need to be aware that there are some key questions you should ask.
What kind of safety features are in place on the bus?
Government regulations demand certain features on all buses used to transport students. Among these are warning lights and stop signal arms. Many buses now have security cameras, but these are not required by law. You may wish to rent a bus with GPS capabilities, often included with newer models. Also, the bus must be painted the correct shade of yellow if is to be used as part of a regular school route. Keep in mind that activity buses--those used for traveling to extracurricular events--do not need to be painted school bus yellow. Furthermore, remember that most states do not mandate the use of seatbelts in school buses.
What sort of screening do they perform on bus drivers?
Drivers entrusted with transporting groups of students should meet certain minimum standards. Ask if the company performs background checks on its drivers. This process should ideally include drug testing. In addition, many companies offer advanced training to its drivers, such as collision avoidance and similar skills.
What associations does the company belong to?
There are a variety of organizations that oversee companies involved in school transportation and chartered bus services. Among these are the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT).
National School Transportation Association
The members of our association provide top of the line transportation to and from school for your children. Find out more about the school transportation services offered in your area.
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If you enjoy children and would like to explore a driving profession, you may wish to become a school bus driver. However, do not take the decision to go into this field lightly. Remember, you will be responsible for the safety of the students you transport.
It is not a simple process to get into this field. You must be an adult over the age of 18, possess a clean driving record, both personal and professional, pass a drug and alcohol test, and pass a full background check by the federal Department of Justice or the FBI before being allowed to operate a school bus. You must complete a certain number of hours in the classroom learning laws and regulations along with a certain number of behind-the-wheel hours before getting your license. You may or may not need a first aid certification as this depends on the state. On top of the student specific training, you will need to receive a CDL Class A or B driver's license from the DMV, a School Bus Certificate, and a physical.
Once working for the state, you will need to know the school schedules, your route, and when you need to travel to kids' homes. You may be chartered to work certain events, trips, and sports games since teachers do not go through the same requirements to allow them to transport students. Some of these travels may run overnight.
Private charter company buses may not require the same level of training as strictly school line drivers mainly because they vehicles can be rented for other engagements. If the rented vehicle is being used for a school related function, the driver may be required to take on extra training in order to work the job.