Transportation Press Release

The district send out a news release yesterday about the Transportation Plan. (Again, you'd have to search for it on the old website to find it - no link at the News and Calendar section.)

Again, there are more meetings to be scheduled after this Thursday's meeting a 7 p.m. at Aki Kurose but they have not yet been announced.

Update: additional meetings posted.

Thursday, Feb. 3
6:30-8 p.m.
at Hamilton International Middle School, 1610 N. 41st
Wednesday, Feb. 8
6:30-8 p.m.
Chief Sealth High School, 2600 SW Thistle.

Good News
The proposed changes would benefit students and families by decreasing the bus ride time for attendance area schools to 25 minutes or less. As routes will be shorter, buses are less likely to encounter the traffic delays that occur on longer routes, so families will find departure and arrival times to be more reliable. The plan also benefits the environment by taking about 80 buses off the roads and reducing the district’s carbon footprint.

Children within the transportation zone and outside of walk zones would be eligible for district-provided transportation. Transportation Zones would include the entire attendance area of a school, extending to areas within a 1.25-mile radius from the school and within the middle school service area. Existing walk zones to schools would still apply.

Bad News
In addition to the new zones, some schools' bell times would change, with some high schools and middle schools starting 10 minutes earlier and elementary schools starting five minutes later

As a result of the plan, some elementary and K-8 students currently receiving transportation this year might not get transportation next year.

District leaders are working to provide the following intermediary bus options for impacted students for the next two years, 2011-13.

Students who live within a half of a mile from the Transportation Zone boundary could walk to a bus stop within the zone. Seats will be allocated on a space available basis

A shuttle system would be created so students can catch a bus at one school and take it to another.

On Wednesday, January 26, the district will start loading maps so that families can see proposed intermediary transportation options based on student address, with completion by Saturday, January 29.

Feb. 2 - Introduction of plan to School Board - this is where you need to make sure to testify and/or send comments. The sooner, the better.

Feb. 16th - Board vote on proposed plan

Additional Info/Input
Additional information is available on the Transportation Services website at , and the site will be updated as additional information, such as estimated number of students impacted by the change, becomes available.


anonymous said…
" Transportation Zones would include the entire attendance area of a school, extending to areas within a 1.25-mile radius from the school and within the middle school service area."

This only applies to elementary school.

For middle school, if I'm reading the proposal correctly, transportation has actually increased for next year, as the walk zone has been reduced from 2.0 miles to 1.5 miles.

The new proposal includes yellow bus transportation for all students that live within their schools attendance area, and more than 2.0 miles from the school. That is the same as it is currently. However, for the students that live within the attendance area, and between 1.5 - 2.0 miles from school, a Metro pass will be provided. This is new. Last year those students did not receive any transportation.

Last year the MS walk zone was 2.0 miles, and this year it has been reduced to 1.5 miles.

So the new middle school proposal would actually increase transportation costs, wouldn't it?

Hopefully, all will be revealed at these meetings. I honestly cannot say I understand this plan or what the possible ramifications of it will mean.
Dorothy Neville said…
I am pretty sure that the middle schoolers would be getting orca cards, not yellow buses, so decreasing the walk zone would add costs of the orca cards, which is not very much. Maybe 400 bucks per kid per year, including administration costs?
Maureen said…
My understanding is that SPS makes a small profit on every Orca card they issue since the reimbursement they get from the state for every kid they 'transport' is slightly more than the Orca card costs. (I heard this from Tom Bishop sometime within the past two years, so the rules and reimbursement may have changed since then.)
Anonymous said…
What does this mean for transportation to/from off-campus before/after school programs that for elementary kids? For example, will the district still bus kids to/from Small Faces and Whittier? I'm a bit confused.

Confused SPS Mom
Anonymous said…
I am still struggling with some components of the proposed Transportation Plan.

First, some State definitions:

According to OSPI, an "eligible student" (for funding reimbursement) is one "whose route stop is outside the walk area of the student's enrollment school site."

"Walk area" is defined as the area around a school where the shortest safe walking route to school is less than one mile.

So outside of the 1-mile walk area, a student is eligible for transportation (according to the State), but there is no specified distance to a route stop. Seattle's Transportation Standards specify walk distances to stops: 0.75 mi. for high school/middle school where feasible and 0.5 mi. for elementary where feasible.

These walk distances to stops are ignored if the student attends a special program (APP) and they can be assigned to route stops at schools over a mile away, and crossing arterials. For all other elementary students, they will not be assigned to bus stops which require them to cross arterial status streets which are contrary to the established recommended walkways for adjacent reference area schools.

Another confused parent
GreyWatch said…
Lots of details yet to be revealed I'm sure, and many more to digest.

Anyone have an idea why start times are being moved up? In the information I got from the district in the press release it was worded something like, "... may result in earlier start times for some middle and high schools." Not all? If so, which ones and why?
Anonymous said…
According to the Board presentation, they are moving from a two-tier bus schedule to a three-tier bus schedule, with elementaries on the 2nd and 3rd tier. In the proposal, the 3rd tier elementaries will be released even later than the current 3:30 release.

The three tiers will only work if 1st tier schools start ten minutes earlier (unless you want 3rd tier elementaries with an afternoon bell time around 4:00 - yikes).

At the Board meeting, Tom Bishop said proposed bell times would be posted Wednesday.

SPS parent
Anonymous said…
From School Transportation News website

"School bus riders in Seattle could see shorter commutes next school year as Seattle Public Schools is proposing new transportation zones that the district says would streamline bus routes and lessen the budgetary blow to the classroom.

The Seattle Public Schools transportation plan would trim $4 million from the school system's budget, the equivalent of 45 teaching positions, as the district seeks to decrease bus ride times for elementary and K-8 schools to 25 minutes or less. In a statement, Seattle Public Schools said shorter bus routes would lessen the chances of the buses encountering traffic delays, and families will come to expect departure and arrival times will be more reliable.

Students who live in the attendance-area transportation zones but outside of walk zones would be eligible to ride the bus. The attendance-area zone would include the entire attendance area of a particular school and would extend to a 1.25-mile radius from the school and within the middle school service area. Existing walks zones would remain in effect.

The plan also includes new bell times that would start middle schools and high schools 10 minutes later and elementary schools five minutes later. Students would also be able to use a shuttle system to catch a bus at one school and take it to another.

The district was expected to upload maps this week so the public could begin to see the proposed changes, and the public can provide testimony to the school board over the coming weeks.

If approved by the school board on Feb. 16, the district said the plan would remove approximately 80 buses from Seattle roads and highways and would reduce the district's carbon footprint."

This is the first I've heard of a shuttle service. Wouldn't it depend on the timing of the busses leaving and arriving at a school? Also, aren't spaces limited to available only. I hate that its being touted as a benefit when there is no proof that anyone will benefit from it.

Josh Hayes said…
Wait a minute, confused parent, now I'm confused.

I was under the impression that, for high schools, the "walk zone" is defined as a TWO-mile distance from the school, and that every kid inside that two-mile radius is expected to hoof it. Orca cards are only provided for kids living outside the two mile zone, right?

I mean, if my son does go on to attend Ingraham next year as he currently wants to do, uh...

Hmm. Now Google maps is showing the distance as about 2.3 miles, which means, I guess, he WOULD be eligible. But let's say it was only a 1.7 mile walk: would he be eligible for an Orca pass? Or what?
Anonymous said…
Here's what I understand, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong:

The district does not have to provide transportation and can decide who does and doesn't get transportation. They can make up the rules. The district has increased the walk area for middle and high school students, because they can.

The State will provide funding for transportation (though not in full) if the student is outside the 1 mile walk area or needs special transportation.

From OSPI:
Districts determine which students are provided with transportation services; however, only eligible students qualify for funding under the operations allocation.

Another confused parent
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
Actually confused parent, if I'm reading the proposal right, the middle school walk zone is decreasing, not increasing. It is going from 2.0 to 1.5 miles.

Josh the proposal says this:

"High Schools - High School students who live within the boundaries of Seattle Public
School District and who live more than 2.5 miles from their assigned school are eligible for
transportation." (transportation is in the form of an ORCA card).

Many exceptions for different schools and populations, but this one might apply to you:

Exception for Ingraham: students residing in the SW portion of the Ingraham attendance area west of 15th Ave NW shall receive District provided transportation service to school. ORCA passes shall be provided for afternoon transportation requirements.
Students attending Ingraham from outside of the Ingraham attendance area may receive supplemental District provided transportation to augment ORCA pass service as required."

The entire proposal is right here:


Pretty interesting reading.
Anonymous said…
The increased walk area to which I was referring was the difference between the State defined walk area (1 walking mile) to the District defined walk zone (2.5/2.0 miles for high school/middle school). The District is now proposing bridging part of this difference with an ORCA pass, which is an improvement over the previous District standards.
Sahila said…
wouldnt it be easier and more logical for the District to just choose between one of two options?


Josh Hayes said…
Thanks, public school mom.

I must admit, I find a 2.5-mile "walk" zone pretty absurd; it's like one of those grampa stories: "I walked two and a half miles to school, uphill both ways!" I myself only walked about 1.3 miles each way (downhill on the way home), and in the Michigan winter, that could be a long, cold 1.3 miles.

And given how early high school starts, that'd mean my son would have to start walking by seven to get there, and walk up delightful Aurora Avenue in the dark. I think not: looks like I have to budget for a monthly bus pass for him.
Patrick said…
Bus arrival and departure time windows? I think I'm confused. At Jane Addams now, the buses drop off between 8:00 and 8:05 AM; teacher supervision on the playground starts at 8:00, first bell is at 8:10 and second at 8:20. But the Transportation Service Standards document says the bus arrival/departure window is now 7:45-2:45, and will change to either 7:40-2:45 or 9:05-3:45. Assuming JA is first tier, does that mean the buses will drop off five minutes earlier than now, or 20 minutes earlier than now?

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