In the 2016-2017 school year, the District had an average daily student population of nearly 26,000. We transported about 16,000 students by bus every day. The District is ever expanding and we expect the population to surpass 26,000 daily for the new school year. As you can imagine, it’s an enormous task to provide bus transportation for a population that size.
Bus routing is a true art form because there are so many factors that go into the design of a single route, e.g. travel time to begin the route, maneuvering space in neighborhoods, number of students in a particular neighborhood, traffic patterns and restrictions, route hazards, bell schedules, follow-on routing to other schools, special needs, etc. Dorchester District Two will be operating over 160 routes this year, each with many hours of planning and reviewing before final publication.
We receive special requests for bus service on a daily basis. Given the number of students, 25 individual schools, field trips and other activities, we cannot accommodate every request, and further there are State and Federal regulations that govern us, restricting or prohibiting many of the specific accommodations sought by the requests. Please see below for excerpts from some of the governing regulations.
One particular request we receive almost daily is to move a bus stop. School buses cannot stop at every student’s house for pickup and delivery. Please be assured we have thoroughly reviewed each route for compliance with the regulations, and we are continuously auditing the routes to ensure the bus stops continue to comply. Bus stops must be within 3/10 of a mile of a student’s home, assuming adequate road capacity and maneuvering space for a bus, and bus stops must be no less than 2/10 of a mile apart. This works out to a minimum of about 4 city blocks between stops. We are continuously evaluating routes for efficiency and will update as required to maintain compliance with the governing regulations while meeting student needs to the best of our ability.
Here is an excerpt from South Carolina Law, TITLE 59, Chapter 69, “Transportation of Pupils, School Buses.”
SECTION 59-67-415. Parental responsibility for safe and timely arrival of children to and from bus stop.
Parents or guardians are responsible for the safety, conduct, and the timely arrival of their children to, from, and at the designated school bus stop before the arrival of the school bus for pick up and transport to school and the timely departure of the children after the school bus leaves the designated school bus stop after transporting the children from school. For purposes of this section, the phrase "arrival of the school bus" includes the time that the school bus assigned to the school bus stop activates the required pedestrian safety devices, stops, and loads or unloads students until the school bus deactivates all pedestrian safety devices.
SECTION 59-67-420. Extent of transportation to be provided.
(A) The State, acting through the State Board of Education, assumes no obligation to transport any student to or from school who lives within one and one-half miles of the school he attends, nor to provide transportation services extending within three-tenths of a mile walking distance of the residence of any student….