The Transportation Operations department serves 121 schools, safely and efficiently transporting approximately 50,000 students to and from school each day. With a fleet of 511 school buses using approximately 2,700 bus routes and 9,200 bus stops, our drivers travel approximately 61,000 miles per day for a total of approximately 10,920,000 miles per school year, which equates to driving around the equator of the earth a little more than two times every day of the school year.
Rules for Riding the Bus
Polk County’s children are our most treasured assets. We strive to provide them with the safest transportation possible, but we can’t do it alone. Please review the following rules with your child, and stress the importance of following these rules while riding the bus.
- Stand off the roadway while awaiting the bus.
- The bus emergency door must not be tampered with and must not be used for ordinary boarding and exiting.
- Keep arms and head inside windows.
- Wait for the driver’s signal before crossing. Cross the roadway three or four steps in front of the bus.
- Please do not move within the bus while it is in motion.
- Outside of ordinary conversation, classroom conduct is to be observed.
- The driver and/or attendant are in full charge of the bus and students. Students must obey driver and/or attendant.
- The driver and/or attendant have the right to assign students seats, if necessary, to promote order on bus.
- No eating, drinking or smoking is allowed on the bus.
- Students must be on time, which is 10 minutes before bus is scheduled to arrive. The bus cannot wait for those who are tardy.
- Other than service animals, animals are not allowed on the bus.
- Students are to be absolutely quiet at railroad crossings.
- When you get up on a school day, and the fog is thick, be sure to listen to the TV news media or a popular radio station in your area for any information regarding a change in the school bus schedule. If no definite information is given, go to your bus stop as usual and wait for the bus to arrive. The bus will make the run even though it may not be on schedule. While waiting for the bus, be very careful and stay off the roadway, away from the edge of the pavement, to avoid being hit by a vehicle, especially when conditions are unsafe.
- When exiting the bus, remind your child to move away from the bus as soon as possible before the bus moves on to the next stop. Ensure that your child knows to never crawl under the bus for any reason.
- Students will only be provided bus transportation to and from the bus stop located nearest their residence.
Any student, who does not abide by the rules stated above, will be disciplined and may be suspended from the bus. RIDING A SCHOOL BUS IS A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT.
Bus riders will be required to participate in two SCHOOL BUS EMERGENCY EVACUATION DRILLS during the school year. This complies with STATE and FEDERAL LAWS. If your child has any physical or medical reasons for not participating in EMERGENCY EVACUATION DRILLS, please notify the bus driver.
Need to know if your bus is running late? Check out our Bus Delays page for more information.
Bus Drivers Wanted
Polk County Public Schools is currently seeking bus drivers for all areas of the county. Visit our application information page for more information or contact the training department of Support Services at 863-534-7298.
Polk County Public Schools has made it possible for all public high school students in the county to use public transportation for FREE. All students need is a COLTS sticker on their school ID badge to ride any standard transit bus in Polk County whenever and wherever the buses are running.
Bus Related Forms
- Blanket Field Trip Permission Form
- Field Trip Permission Form – One time trip use
- Medical Treatment Authorization Form – Permitting necessary medical treatment while on Field Trips
Where is the Transportation Administrative Office located?
The physical address is 1430 State Road 60 East in Bartow. We are located just east of the overpass at the intersection of State Road 60 and U.S. 17.
How do I find out what bus my child will ride this year?
Please call the school your child will attend. Transportation releases bus routing information to the schools as soon as the routes are finished. If the school your child will attend does not have the information, it means that the route is not ready for public release. Please check with the school again at a later date. Transportation will not provide information on routes that have not been released to schools.
My student attends a charter school. Is transportation provided by Polk County Public Schools?
In some cases, the Polk County Public Schools’ Transportation Operations department provides transportation to charter schools. The school district and the charter school enter into a contract for this service. You may contact the charter school your child attends to find out if this is provided. If the charter school does not have a contracted service agreement, then the school district cannot provide transportation to the students attending the charter school.
I live less than two miles from my child’s school. Is he/she eligible for transportation?
By law, the State of Florida provides transportation funding only for traditional education students that live two or more miles from the school. Polk County Public Schools does not provide additional resources to transport students living within two miles of school.
How is a bus stop location determined?
Bus stops are located as a function of safety, neighborhood logistics, state regulations, and Transportation Operations requirements. We try to locate bus stops so as to serve the entire needs of a neighborhood for years to come. They cannot be located as a function of personal convenience or schedule. State regulations require that, when practical, we place bus stops no more than 1.5 miles from the residence of a student. State regulations do not address sidewalks or grade level above fifth grade in the determination of stop placement. Florida law mandates that we do not place bus stops closer than 300 feet together and consider carefully all traffic conditions before placement. Bus drivers do not have the authority to create or delete bus stops.
Can my child bring a friend home on the bus? Can they ride the bus to school the next morning?
No. We are directed by the State of Florida funding program to maximize the efficiency of our school buses. This means filling every seat on the bus on each run. We cannot allow additional students, not assigned to an individual bus, to ride an already “maxed-out” bus as a convenience. In addition to not having seating for the additional passengers, we also have no emergency data for the student in case there is an accident. Services we provide for one student, we must be prepared to provide for all. Therefore, our policy is to not allow convenience riders, unless it is a pre-coordinated emergency situation.
My child missed the bus. Can I follow the bus in my car and allow my child to board the bus at another stop?
For safety reasons, if your child misses the bus, do not attempt to chase, pass, or block the bus along its route. Any action taken to impede or delay the progress of an official school bus is unlawful. If possible, in a safe manner, take a different route to a stop ahead of the bus and let your child board there. When in your car, directly behind a school bus, it is very dangerous for a child to attempt to run from the car along the side of the bus to board. Nationwide, fatalities have occurred where students have fallen in front of the rear wheels of a departing bus after they jumped out of a parent’s car to run up and board the bus.
My pre-kindergarten child must be accompanied at the bus stop. What do you do if I have an emergency and I cannot notify you, or be there, to meet my child?
Arrangements must be made to meet your child. Transportation Operations will attempt to deliver the student to the regular bus stop. If no one is there to meet the child, we will return the child to the school. If the school cannot take custody of the child, Transportation Operations has no choice but to seek help from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Why does my pre-kindergarten child have to be met at the bus stop?
As agreed by the parents upon registration in the pre-kindergarten program, a designated responsible individual will be available to accompany the pre-kindergartner at the bus stop. A child of this age simply cannot be left alone at a bus stop. Three failures by a designated responsible individual to meet a pre-kindergarten student will result in forfeiture of the privilege to ride the school bus.
Someone told me the bus was late because the run was being “covered.” What does this mean?
When there are more school bus drivers out due to illness than we have substitute drivers, we must split up entire bus runs to “cover” all the students in an area and get them to school. This may mean shifting entire loads or just a few stops. This process is logistically challenging for our staff and drivers, but it is a necessary procedure designed to ensure a timely arrival/delivery for students. The only way to prevent “covering” is to have enough substitute bus drivers so that we can fill regular driver vacancies as they occur.
Why doesn’t the Transportation Operations office call me when the bus is delayed in the morning or afternoon? Is there a place I can call for information about a bus delay?
School buses, like any form of mass transportation, are significantly affected by many uncontrollable factors. These factors may include a shortage of drivers due to sickness or other (weather, road repair/closure, traffic) conditions, run coverage, etc. When a bus is running late, the students are instructed to wait at the stop, and to not go back home. If the bus is late, and the student rides it to school, he/she will not be counted tardy. If the student goes home, and then is taken to school, the school will count the student tardy. Transportation Operations strives to keep all our buses running as close to the published time schedule as possible. We do ask that the students arrive at least 10 minutes early to the stop location. This ensures that we account for seasonal traffic conditions and differences in individual watch settings. While we would like to notify parents of late buses, we simply do not have the resources to do so. We do notify schools as soon as we confirm late buses. If the bus is running more than 30 minutes late, please contact the school for the latest information. You can also view updated arrival times by going to polkschoolsfl.com/busdelays.
Where can I get a copy of the bus rules?
A copy of the bus rules may be obtained in the office of your local school. Additionally, copies of the bus rules are posted in every school bus and all bus drivers review the rules with the students during the first week of school.
Who can authorize a bus stop location change?
As bus stops are placed as a function of safety and regulation, only Transportation Operations administrative staff can make changes to stop locations. Bus drivers cannot add or change bus stops.
If my child goes on a field trip, do the same rules of bus discipline apply?
Yes, the school bus is considered an extension of the classroom. Therefore, all the rules apply all of the time.
Can the school bus driver suspend my child from riding the bus?
A school bus driver does not have disciplinary authority or choice of disciplinary action. A driver can only refer observed student actions (via a bus referral) to the school for due process. Polk County Public Schools has an approved Code of Conduct that outlines and guides school-based administrators as to the disciplinary action that is appropriate for each situation and grade level.
What if my child is suspended from the morning bus? My child rides a different bus in the afternoon. What is the procedure?
Many students ride different buses in the morning and in the afternoon. However, when a student is suspended from any bus, it is a suspension from all transportation.
Who is responsible for resolving discipline problems that occur on the bus?
Bus drivers attempt to correct inappropriate behavior, but often it requires the intervention of a school administrator. The principal of each school is responsible for the administration of school bus discipline.
Can a bus driver or transportation official change a bus disciplinary ruling?
No, discipline hearings are exclusively conducted and decided at the school level.
If the bus has a video camera, can parents see the tape?
Parents/guardians may only be given the opportunity to review a video if it is pertaining to a disciplinary issue relating to their own child. Video recordings of school buses are additional tools school administrators and Transportation Operations officials utilize to sample the “total environment” of the bus. Our legal department has advised that due to student confidentiality issues, parents may not view the videotapes of non-disciplinary issues.
I would like to talk to my child’s bus driver about a problem on the bus. How do I go about this? Couldn’t I just meet the driver at the bus stop location?
Parents are not allowed on a school bus unless specifically authorized. Parents who decide to board a bus, ignoring the warning of the bus driver, are subject to arrest and prosecution under the law. To talk with a driver, please contact the school your child attends and request a conference with the driver. Please provide the bus number and/or driver name, if possible. The school will be more than happy to coordinate with Transportation Services and set up a conference. It is important to understand that bus drivers are only available for conference between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM., Monday – Friday.
Why do I have to fill out an information card and give it to the driver? Doesn’t the school have the information?
It is absolutely imperative that the school bus drivers have the most recent emergency contact information available on the bus. This is necessary in case of an accident, medical emergency or some other event that your student may be involved in, which may require immediate parental/guardian notification.
Why are there “bus attendants” on some buses?
Bus attendants are there to assist with students who have documented special needs, including physical, medical, etc.
What happens if a school bus is involved in an accident?
If your student’s bus is involved in an accident, the driver will immediately radio our dispatcher with vital information. The dispatcher will notify the appropriate emergency personnel to respond. The school the bus was servicing at the time of the accident will be notified and an appropriate school representative may be asked to go to the scene of the accident, depending on how serious the situation may be. If your child needs to be transported anywhere, for any reason, by emergency medical technicians at the scene, we will notify you or the emergency contact listed on the student information card as soon as possible. If your student is not injured, you will not be notified and your child will be transported to the school or home, as appropriate, as soon as a release is given by local law enforcement. Your student will not be counted tardy or absent.
My child is in a wheelchair and the brakes on the chair are not working. Can he/she be transported?
No. Broken or otherwise inoperable wheelchairs or other specialty student assistance devices cannot be safely transported. All student support equipment must be fully operational at the time of bus boarding.
My child has a leg cast. Can he/she stand on the lift to enter the bus and be transported?
No. If a student has a cast that prohibits him/her from riding a regular education bus, we can usually accommodate and transport with a wheelchair bus. A wheelchair lift is not designed to safely board students who are standing. A student must be secured, sitting in a wheelchair, to ride a lift to board a bus.
Can teen mothers feed their babies on the bus?
No. Eating and drinking activities are prohibited on all of our buses. Teen parents must feed their children prior to boarding our school buses. It is unsafe to remove a child from a car seat for any reason.