How Are the Wheels on the Bus Going for Your Child?

From a reader named Maureen:

How is transportation going for everyone? Are late start times for K-5s as much of a problem as people thought they would be? Have there been unpleasant (or pleasant) surprises WRT transportation because of the NSAP?


Anonymous said…
I am wondering how the ORCA cards for middle and high school students are paid for by the district. Does the district pay a monthly rate or by the trip? How much did the district pay for the ORCA cards? Also, will the district be using the ORCA card data inherent in the system (such as locations where students board and where students go after school) to find the students who are not using their real residence addresses? For example, for the over-enrolled Garfield freshman class, the district need only learn which students are returning to addresses which don't match the official home zip code, and kick out the students who have used fake addresses. It can work for the other grades as well. It's easy as pie for anyone with any computer savvy.
Maureen said…
Let's call that last poster "ORCA Anon" so we don't have to erase their scary Orwellian post!

I'm not sure how they are paying for the cards (I was shocked to hear last year that SPS got no bulk discount for monthly Metro passes.) My 7th grader's card says it expires when she graduates from HS (though I expect they can cancel it if she fails to re-enroll.).

I don't think they can justify basing address info on where you get on and off the bus. Kids are allowed to be bused from day care addresses or be dropped off at sports/clubs that are not near their home address. Most of the kids who qualify for a guaranteed seat at GHS won't qualify for free Metro passes anyway (have to live more than 2.5 miles awawy.)
Charlie Mas said…
ORCA cards might not be a good way to find attendance area cheaters since high school students only get the card if their address is outside the two-mile walk zone around the school.
No One said…
ORCA Anon's post is quite scary indeed. Is anyone bothered by the fact that by using geo-tracable ORCA cards, our CHILDREN's travels can now be monitored. And potentially in real-time, no less.

Yes, such features exist on many "smart phones" these days, but only if you actively turn them on. This is essentially being forced on the kids if they want to get to school.

If ORCA cards are indeed the only way HS kids get transportation now, the individual cards should be anonymous. Otherwise the consequences really are Orwellian.
Josh Hayes said…
As for the original question, my kids have the same bus stop as last year - it's a four-way intersection - and in the first five days the bus managed to show up at least once from each of the four possible directions. We all found that funny, but everyone on the bus looked at us funny when we were laughing uproariously after it showed up from the last possible direction.

I guess it could burrow up out of the ground, but I'm hoping no.

As usual, it shows up around ten minutes late this week. I expect in a couple of weeks it'll be pretty much on time.

As for the ORCA cards, I'm not really worried about that tracking aspect. What I WOULD like to see is the ability to use it on Link Light Rail, which apparently it can't be right now -- I also understand that lots of kids DO use it that way and nobody questions it, but it'd be good to have it formalized. This will grow more and more important as the rail line expands northward.
wsnorth said…
Based upon the NSAP boundaries, the district seems to have no clue about the geography or topography of Seattle or the proximity of any given address to its "neighborhood" school. I doubt they could make meaningful sense of any data from Orca cards, even if they had access to it!
wsnorth said…
That said, does anyone know why they don't just let the high schools start later, now that the yellow bus service to high schools is basiclly not an issue. My 2 teens could sure use an extra hour of sleep.
Anonymous said…
I am also shocked the district does not get a discount on the bus passes.

We are 2.4 miles from our high school, and I have to say I think the 2.5 mile marker is too far. It is a LONG way to walk twice a day. Maybe I am just a couch potato/couch potato enabler? I don't think so; school starts early and afternoons are needed more for homework than walking. Plus several days a week there are evening practices at school, making a return trip necessary. Metro makes sense for my son, but due to that 0.1 mile we have to pay for the trips or the bus pass.
WS North, the problem is there IS still some yellow bus service to some high schools. Somehow this negates the ability to have later high school start times (except for Hale, Nova, and Center which don't yellow bus service so they start at 8:15 am). I just noticed that Cleveland starts at 7:25 am so I guess you better count your blessings.
Okay, I doubled checked and it looks like the Transportation bell times list has Cleveland starting at 7:25 but their website says 7:40 am. I'm guessing the website is the correct one.
Charlie Mas said…
There are a couple reasons why you might see yellow bus service to high schools.

1) Special Education. There are some students who cannot reliably use METRO

2) Clusters of students travelling from areas that would take over an hour to reach the school by METRO. I don't know the exact formula or the breakpoints, but given enough students and a long enough bus ride, the District will provide a yellow bus.

As far as I know, the ORCA card issued to students can be used on the light rail. I know that my daughter has used her District-issued ORCA card to ride the train. She takes the light rail downtown to catch a bus to West Seattle and Sealth.

For Lisa's high school student, I suggest a bicycle.

As for the variety in start times - I mean BUS times - there does seem to be more diversity than what we were told when the whole thing was initially presented. I don't know if this is a result of the disconnect between schools and the headquarters or the usual lack of information used when the headquarters makes a proclamation. They proclaim, and then they learn that they are wrong about a basket full of tiny details so they quietly alter their proclamation to the point that it just isn't true anymore. Plenty of examples out there.

They proclaim that everyone must use the Board-adopted materials, then they learn that the Board-adopted materials need to be supplemented and they learn that the rules are unenforcable and they learn that they can't enforce fidelity of implementation, and they learn five other things that punch holes in their mandate. Then they wonder how anyone got the idea that they had proclaimed anything in the first place.
hschinske said…
Josh wrote: I guess it could burrow up out of the ground, but I'm hoping no.

Too funny! I supposed better that than falling on you out of the sky ;-)

Helen Schinske
h2o_girl said…
My kid's bus has been about 10 minutes late every day, but it's not a big deal. Josh, that is very amusing about the "guess which way the bus will come from!"

There was some talk about perhaps giving the kids living in north Ballard a yellow bus to Ingraham - does anyone know if that actually happened?
teresah said…
Yes, the yellow bus service promised for Ingraham is supposedly in place. My son doesn't use it but we were told that it is happening. My son is an Ingraham Freshman and he is thrilled about using Metro even though it takes him 45-60 minutes to get to school, enhances the feeling of being "nearly" grown-up. By the way we love Ingraham, so far the pre-IB program is excellent and the staff and students are nice. What more can you ask for? Well maybe the 35 kids in the noisy Spanish class could be improved upon.
wsnorth said…
Almost in passing, someone brought up a good point. Why aren't SPS more bike friendly? My older kids bike to school about 1/2 the time, walk some times, and some lame-o parent drives them some times (but they have to walk home).

When they do bike, sometimes they are locking their bikes to each other's bike or whatever they can find.

I biked everywhere as a kid (but don't recall locking it every).
wsnorth said…
... I meant to ask, why don't people with a 2.5 mile walk ride their bikes? That is a very easy, quick bike ride (especially for a teen).
Dorothy Neville said…
Why don't more teens bike. Well, as the mom of a teen who did bike some, and the wife of someone who bike commutes year round, here's my answer.

Because 2 miles is still a bit of slog on hills sometimes.
Because it is still dark in the morning to get to the building in time to be ready for school
because lots of teen drivers are also converging on the same place. in the dark.
because the brand new RHS installed a whole beautiful row of bike racks wrong so they cannot be used properly.
because the school was so crowded you don't have a locker to put your wet outerwear. and unlike an adult in an office who can hang wet clothing in the cubicle or somewhere to dry, nothing is going to dry inside the tiny school lockers anyway.

That said, I do know some kids who biked regularly, put up with the extra work and early morning teen driver danger. But it takes good rain-gear, a solid bike with fenders and good waterproof way to transport all your books and other paraphernalia.
wsnorth said…
Dorothy Neville... (good points about biking) - this is another reason to start the High Schools a little later, and the locker, bike rack and overcrowding issues are ridiculous at some schools... all avoidable with planning, but probably won't be fixed, will they?

Can't help with the hills...or teen drivers (the latter not such an issue at middle schools, though)!
Anonymous said…
I was wondering if anyone knew how much it would be to get a replacement card if you lost it in school.please.

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