In 2020-2021, CMS operated average of 928 buses that traveled an estimated 110,000 miles daily. Approximately 101,000 students were assigned to CMS Transportation services. The District provides transportation for any student who is deemed eligible based on the Board-approved student assignment policy and regulations. CMS Transportation will provide services to and from school for eligible students with bus stops and bus route assignments based on their residence address in the District’s student information system.
Maintaining a current and accurate address through your school at all times is essential. Please note: Parents may become responsible for morning drop off and afternoon pickup if an address change results in the child moving outside of his/her home school and the family chooses for the child to remain in the current or non-home school (additional details below). Individual student situations may vary, and not all conditions may apply to the above general statement. If you have specific questions, please contact your school administrator.
School Bus Stops and Bus Schedules
The superintendent, with the assistance of the Transportation department, will designate school bus routes and stops. Bus stops will likely be no closer than .2 mile unless an exception is made because of safety factors.
The distance students may be walking to their bus stops is based on the following criteria:
- Bus stops for elementary school students may be adjusted up to .2 miles if they are not currently subject to that distance
- Bus stops for middle and high school students will be adjusted up to .4 mile where feasible
School buses will come to a complete stop at each bus stop; if no student is in sight, the bus will continue on its route immediately. Bus drivers will not wait for a student who is not already at the bus stop and is prepared to board the bus in a timely manner. The school bus driver will report to the principal the name of any student who is frequently late in arriving at the bus stop.
Students should arrive at the bus stop at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled pick-up time. This will allow time for uncontrollable situations, such as traffic delays, weather, and possible functionality issues with Here Comes The Bus application. Students are also asked to wait for the bus at least 10 minutes after the scheduled pick-up time before leaving the bus stop.
The bus information label received in August is a starting point for the bus schedule. Times will likely fluctuate earlier or later as students are added or deleted from the bus. Please contact your area transportation office for additional information.
Parents/guardians of pre-kindergarten children are responsible for arranging a responsible individual (18 years or older) to wait with their children at the designated bus stop in the morning to see their children safely board the bus.
Parents/guardians of pre-kindergarten children are responsible for arranging for a responsible individual (18 years or older) to be present at the afternoon bus stop to receive their children off the bus.
- Parents/guardians are responsible for making sure their children get to and from the designated stop safely and timely
- Parents/guardians are responsible for selecting their children’s walking routes to and from bus stops and home
- Parents/guardians are responsible for providing supervision that is appropriate to the student’s age, maturity, and conditions that exist on the walk route
- Parents/guardians are fully responsible for their student’s behavior, property damage, vandalism, and any other issues that may occur at and around the CMS bus stop
- Parents/guardians should know their children’s bus number and stop location
- Parents/guardians shall know the bus rules and review them with their children
Express Bus Stops for Magnet Schools
In addition to using common stops within neighborhoods, Express Stops may be assigned for the following magnet schools for 2022-2023. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Transportation is committed to ensuring that every student is focused on learning each day. CMS Transportation provides a gateway to academic achievement by facilitating safe, efficient, and equitable access for all students.
Over the years, CMS has increased the number of magnet programs offered, resulting in a growing demand for more transportation. The department has identified Express Stops as an alternative mode to increase access, increase system efficiencies, and improve the student experience.
As announced at the Board of Education meeting in December 2022, CMS Transportation will launch Express Stops for identified full and partial magnet high schools.
All students living outside the home school boundary, if applicable, and attending Northwest School of the Arts and Waddell Language Academy may be assigned to a magnet shuttle stop located at predefined CMS school parking lots.
Students and their families will be responsible for transportation to and from the assigned express stop location. No vehicles will be allowed to remain at the host school for the express stops. The student/family realizes full responsibility for the condition and security of any vehicle or other item(s) that may remain on other property.
Timely arrivals and pickups are critical for the safety and security of each student. Each assigned and eligible child should arrive at the assigned shuttle stop between 10-15 minutes prior to the assigned morning stop time and must be picked up 10-15 minutes after the assigned afternoon stop time. Consistent late morning arrivals and afternoon pick up of the student may result in a loss of the privilege to utilize bus service for the school year.
If a student does not use a bus stop location for 10 consecutive days at any time during the school year, Transportation reserves the right to cease service for the student and/or eliminate the bus stop if there are no other eligible students assigned to the stop. Reinstatement for a bus stop may be requested online using the Transportation Service Request Form on the CMS website.
To the extent possible, students may be scheduled to arrive and unload at school no earlier than 30 minutes prior to the approved morning bell. This arrival window, per the Board of Education, is designed for students to adequately prepare for the educational day, and eat breakfast and also allows for maximum utilization and scheduling of school buses serving multiple schools in the morning.
Alternate Bus Stops
Transportation for alternate stop locations other than the one assigned based on the student’s residence address, including licensed daycares and a relative’s address, will be provided within the student’s attending school boundary. Only those students eligible for transportation may request these transportation arrangements. Please note that transportation services will not be granted to locations such as public businesses (e.g., a parents’ workplace), non-CMS after-school activities (e.g., dance studio, karate classes), or student workplaces. A Transportation Request Form must be completed for an alternate stop to be considered. Parents should submit their request online to cmsk12.org/buses and, located at the bottom of the home page under Bulletin Board, click on Transportation Service Request Forms.
Transportation will be provided to students remaining after school for instructional-related extended day programs. Only students eligible for transportation will receive these services. Please note this level of transportation service may be eliminated or reduced upon District approval since it is beyond the hours of the regular school day. Bus stops may also be based on the common geography of all students attending the extended and versus stops based on individual student residence address.
As stated above, to ensure CMS Transportation is generating and maintaining bus schedules based on where a child lives, the school must be made aware of the accurate residence address for each child.
If a change of address is reported during the summer months (after the last day of class and before the opening day for the next school year), the student’s school assignment will become the home school for the new address. Transportation will continue for students residing within their home school attendance boundary. If a change of address is reported on the opening day of school or anytime during the regular school year, transportation will continue for any child who moves into another school’s attendance boundary, becoming their ‘new’ home school ANDmoving to that school. Transportation will not continue for any child who moves into another school’s attendance boundary and does not change schools for the balance of the school year. In these cases, the child will be automatically assigned to their home school the following year and will become eligible for transportation once again.
No Transportation Zone Guidelines
G.S. § 115C–242. “Use and operation of school buses. A local board of education which elects to operate a school bus transportation system shall not be required to provide transportation for any school employee, nor shall such board be required to provide transportation for any pupil living within one and one half miles of the school in which such pupil is enrolled.” This one and a half mile area is often referred to as the “No Transportation Zone.”
The “No Transportation Zone” is a designated area surrounding a school in which students living within the boundary of the attending school will NOT be provided transportation services. Per North Carolina state law (see printed above) this area can measure up to a 1.5 mile radius around the school building. While CMS does not enforce this state law to the full extent possible, any student residing within the established no transportation zone for his/her attending school will not be eligible for transportation services. However, any student properly coded and authorized as an exceptional child in a self-contained setting and residing within the established no transportation zone may be considered for a bus stop. Licensed daycares located within the no transportation zone may be considered for transportation services. The parent or guardian is responsible for their child(ren)’s safety to and from school.
Exception: Schools may request an exception for a child whose Individual Education Plan (IEP) requires special transportation services or for a child whose 504 Plan requires special transportation. Documentation must be provided to the Transportation Department.
School Bus Safety and Conduct
We know you share our concern for the safety of every student who rides a school bus or activity bus. We ask you to impress upon your child that it is absolutely necessary to follow the rules and to obey the bus driver. It is very important that you review these rules and responsibilities, as well as those included in the Student Rights, Responsibilities and Character Development Handbook, with your child and let us know you have done so by completing and signing the form included in that handbook and sending it to your school with your child. After 10 school days, if the school does not have the signed form, the principal may take away the privilege of riding the bus.
Duties and Responsibilities of Students on Buses
Conduct of Students
- Obey the bus driver promptly concerning conduct on the bus
- Observe classroom conduct, except for ordinary conversation with students in the same seat, while getting on or off and while riding on the school bus
- Except with prior written permission from the principal, objects that are prohibited in school, as listed in the Student Rights, Responsibilities and Character Development Handbook, are also not allowed on the school bus
- Be at the place designated both morning and afternoon, ready to board the bus prior to the time shown on the posted schedule. The driver is responsible for maintaining this schedule and will not wait for tardy students.
- Help keep the bus clean, sanitary and orderly and do not damage or abuse the cushions or other bus equipment. Students will be required to pay for damages. For the child’s safety, eating is not permitted on the school bus.
- In case of emergency, ask the driver to stop the bus
- Do not use drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or profane language on the bus.
Students are not permitted to use recording devices or radios on the buses
- Stay off the roadway while waiting for the bus
- Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop before attempting to get on or off
- Leave the bus only with the consent of the driver
- Enter or leave the bus only by the front door except in case of emergency
- Do not lean out of windows. Keep head and hands inside the bus.
- When crossing a street at a bus stop:
- Make sure the bus is stopped, the door is open and the stop signal is out
- Look both ways and do not run across the street
- Cross in front of the bus within sight and hearing of the driver
- When safe, walk quickly and directly to board the bus
- Do not follow behind the bus if your student misses his/her stop (Students can only board buses at their assigned stop)
It is critical to note that being assigned to and riding a school bus is a privilege, not a right, in the state of North Carolina. Rules and expectations regarding proper student behavior MUST be regarded as highly on and around a school bus as they are on school grounds and in the classroom. In many ways, the bus is a direct extension of the classroom and is still a part of the child’s educational day.
School property is defined as “the physical premises of all school campuses and properties, bus stops, all vehicles under the control of the district, and the premises of all school-sponsored curricular or extra-curricular activities, whether occurring on or away from a school campus.” (Policy S-SUSP)
Under General Statute §115C-245, the principal may discipline a student for misconduct on the bus or violating the instructions of the driver. The following are examples of misconduct:
- Fighting, smoking, drinking, using or possessing drugs, using profanity or refusing to obey the driver;
- Entering or leaving the bus without the permission of the driver;
- Refusing to be seated or not allowing others to be seated;
- Using the emergency exit when there is no emergency;
- Not leaving the bus at the right time or place;
- Delaying the bus schedule;
- Distracting the bus driver; or
- Participating in any inappropriate behavior while riding the bus.
Repeated violations will result in out-of-school suspension and permanent removal of transportation privileges. Under General Statute §115C-399, the principal may discipline a student for:
- Willfully trespassing upon or damaging a school bus;
- Entering a school bus or school activity bus after being forbidden to do so; or
- Refusing to leave a bus upon request
Unauthorized persons, including parents and guardians, are not permitted on buses without permission from the principal. Entering a school bus without permission is unlawful under North Carolina law.
In addition to discipline under the Student Rights, Responsibilities and Character Development Handbook, the violator could be prosecuted for violation of NC criminal trespass laws.
School bus rules and actions of school bus drivers are for the safety of our children.