Transportation route and bus stop policies
Requirements for school bus route extensions
The Anchorage School District Transportation Department establishes school bus routes to serve eligible students within the natural attendance areas of District schools. In order to be eligible for transportation, students must live more than one and one half (1.5) miles from school or live in an area which has been determined to be hazardous by the Districts Hazardous Transportation Committee. Safety of students is the primary concern when establishing school bus routes and student pick up locations.
Some roads within the boundaries of the Anchorage School District are not considered safe for school bus operation. The District attempts to establish school bus routes that will serve students in a timely fashion on all days when school is in session. The following requirements must be met before a route extension is approved.
- The pickup point requiring duplicate mileage must serve at least three students and be at least one mile one way from the main route; or the pickup point requiring duplicate mileage serves a minimum of fifteen (15) or more students.
- The entire route must be over regularly maintained roads, having at least a gravel surface, which is under the supervision and all weather maintenance of the Alaska Department of Highways, the Municipality of Anchorage or a Local Road Board.
- Adequate turnaround space for transportation vehicles must be available on the route.
School buses are designed to provide safe transportation for students. However, the potential for accidents increases dramatically if buses are routed on roads with unsafe conditions or roads not adequately maintained, especially during the winter months.
The design and handling characteristics of school buses are radically different from other vehicles on the road today. An empty full size school bus weighs in excess of 10 tons (over 15 tons fully loaded) and has a significantly higher center of gravity than an automobile, SUV or light truck. Because of the differences in vehicles used for student transportation the Anchorage School District considers a number of additional factors when evaluating a road for a school bus route extension:
Areas with limited access (one road in and out) are not desirable.
Residential and collector streets with a grade in excess of 10% will not be considered for school bus service. Grades between 6% and 10% will be evaluated to determine if school bus service can be provided in a safe manner. The severity and length of the grade will be considered in conjunction with all other factors.
Roads with steep grades must have adequate area to recover from a skid should the bus lose traction while traveling up or down a grade.
The road must be built and maintained to a sufficient width to allow a school bus and another vehicle to pass without leaving the roadway.
Tight curves which require the bus to enter the oncoming lane of traffic are unacceptable. Curves at the end of a steep grade can cause a serious safety hazard should the school bus lose traction and will be grounds for denial of an route extension.
There should be sufficient sight distance, especially on hills, curves and at student loading zones so that other traffic can be seen.
Embankments along the sides of the road can cause a hazard should the school bus lose traction.
All roads on school bus routes must be maintained to provide safe access for school buses especially during the winter months. If maintenance is an issue, the District will monitor winter maintenance one complete winter prior to initiating bus service.
Requirements for School Bus Stops
The area to be served by the bus must met the criteria listed above and be reviewed by Transportation Department to determine the safest location for the school bus stop. The following items are considered when adding or relocating a school bus stop.
Distance to the child's home - on regular routes students may, depending on conditions, be required to walk up to 1.5 miles to the school bus stop.
Distance to closest stop - the District attempts to locate school bus stops no closer than 1/8 mile apart. Experience has indicated that bus stops located close together make motorists impatient, resulting in more cars passing stopped buses.
Visibility - on highways where the speed limit is forty (40) miles per hour or more, no bus will stop on a curve or a hill where visibility is not at least 500 feet. Three hundred (300) feet minimum visibility is required on all other roads and highways.
Waiting area - areas which have a safe location off the roadway for students to wait for the bus are preferable.
Grade - school bus stops must be located on flat ground. During the winter months it is difficult for children to board and exit the bus when parked on a slope. Locating of a school bus stop on a slope increases the potential for a child to slip and fall under the school bus.
Road maintenance - as stated above, the road must be maintained by the Alaska Department of Highways, the Municipality of Anchorage or a Local Road Board.
Street lights - wherever possible school bus stops will be located in close proximity to a street light.
Width of street - school bus stops will be located only in areas where streets are wide enough to safely board and discharge students.
Process for Evaluation of New Bus Stop Location, Relocation of Existing Bus Stops and Route Extensions
- When the attached form is received at Transportation Center, "Request for Review of School Bus Stop Review" form is completed by Transportation Department staff. It is dated, numbered and transmitted to the appropriate Safety Officer along with copies of maps of the neighborhood in question and existing route sheets when appropriate.
- The "Request for Review of School Bus Stop" form and attached maps and route sheets are reviewed by the Safety Officer. Often there is discussion between the Safety Officer and the Transportation Planner regarding past reviews of the area or clarification of the request for review.
- The Safety Officer conducts a site review of the area (during the time that students are in the area whenever possible). The site is reviewed in accordance with National Standards, State and District guidelines. Items considered are distance to closest existing stop, grade at location and other physical aspects of road surface, maintenance, traffic volume, lighting, traffic controls, visibility of the students and stopped bus and any other safety issues deemed pertinent by the Safety Officer. While on-site the Safety Officer completes the lower portion of the "Request for Review" form.
- The Safety Officer may radio or call the Transportation Planner for additional information while on-site completing the site review.
- Upon completion of the site review, the Safety Officer discusses his/her recommendations regarding the request with the Transportation Planner and occasionally with the Transportation Supervisor. The final recommendation is presented to the Director of Transportation for approval/disapproval and sign off.
- The individual requesting the additional stop or change is called by either the Safety Officer or the Transportation Planner and notified of the status of their request. If the request has been denied, an explanation of the circumstances is provided to the requester. If the request is approved, the requester is notified of the stop location, pickup and drop off times, route number and effective date of the change/addition.
- The Transportation Planner then determines the route serving the area that can accommodate the additional time and number of students that will be added by the change/addition and adds the stop to the morning/midday/afternoon route segments. The stop must be added to the master wall map and the wall route board in the routing office as well as to the computer system that generates the route sheets.
- The new route sheets are distributed to the drivers, dispatch and the payroll clerk. The new stop listings (listing all active school bus stops by school) are distributed to the school, dispatch and routing staff. Often, parents of students using the current routes must be notified of the changes. Notification of the route sheets and stop listings must be timely so that drivers will have time to revise their maps/notebooks, schools will have the opportunity
Please contact Pupil Transportation at 742-1200 for Request for Change of School Bus Stop Forms