Q. Who must be transported?
A. In accordance with state law, N.J.S.A. 18A:39-1, all public elementary school students (grades K-8) who live more than two miles from their school and all public secondary school students (grades 9-12) who live more than two-and-a-half miles from their school are entitled to transportation. These students are said to live "remote from school." Whenever a school district is required to provide transportation to students attending regular public school programs, students attending nonpublic schools who meet those distance requirements may also be entitled to transportation services. In addition, any student classified with special needs who either meets these distance requirements or for whom transportation is required in the student's Individual Education Plan must be transported.
Q. How is the distance between a student's home and school measured?
A. Measurement is made by the shortest distance along public roadways or walkways between the entrance to the student's home and the nearest public entrance of the school building. This measurement is for eligibility purposes only and is not necessarily the travel path to or from school.
Q. Who is responsible for transportation to charter and choice schools?
A. The transportation of students to and from a charter school is the responsibility of the board of education of the school district in which the student resides. Students who reside less than remote from their charter school are eligible for transportation in accordance with the policies of the district board of education in which they reside.
The transportation of students to and from a choice school is the responsibility of the board of education of the school district in which the student resides.
Q. Are there any limits on nonpublic school transportation?
Yes, there are several limits on nonpublic school transportation. They are:
If the cost of the transportation to be provided to the nonpublic school student will exceed the annual maximum expenditure, the school district cannot provide the transportation but instead pay the student's parent or legal guardian the maximum expenditure amount. The maximum expenditure for the transportation of nonpublic school students cannot exceed $884 for the 2016-2017 school year.
In the 2016-2017 school year, transportation services are also extended to students living in third-class counties or second-class counties with a population of less than 235,000 who reside no more than 30 miles from their nonpublic schools located within the state. This applies to Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Salem, Sussex and Warren counties.
Q. Is it a district's responsibility to provide transportation for students who live less than remote from school when hazardous road conditions exist?
A. Boards of education are not required by law to provide busing for students who live less than remote from school even for safety reasons. However, boards are permitted, at their own discretion and expense, to provide transportation for students who reside less than remote from school and may charge the student's parents or legal guardians for this service. Municipalities may also contract with boards of education for this service and charge the parents. This transportation service is called Subscription Busing.
Q. Where can I purchase subscription busing?
A. Subscription busing may be purchased from your own school district, another school district transporting students to that school, or a coordinating transportation services agency (CTSA) providing busing to that school. A board of education or CTSA may provide this service at its discretion.
Q. Who is responsible for safe travel along public roadways or walkways?
A. Case law has long held that safety along public roadways and walkways is a municipal responsibility. It is for this reason that municipalities install sidewalks, traffic signals and signs, and paint crosswalks. Pursuant to section 40A:9-154.1 of New Jersey statute, school crossing guards are appointed by the municipality and are under the supervision of the chief of police or other chief law enforcement officer.
Q. How long may a school bus be used to transport students in New Jersey?
A. Some school buses can be used for 12 years from the date of manufacture or the end of the school year in which that date occurs. Some school buses, other than those of the transit type with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 25,000 pounds, can be used for 15 years from the date of manufacture or the end of the school year in which that date occurs provided the school bus meets certain emission standards. School buses of the transit type with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 25,000 pounds may be used for 20 years from the date of manufacture or the end of the school year in which that date occurs. If you have questions about which category a school vehicle falls into, please contact the School Bus Inspection Unit at the Motor Vehicle Commission.
Q. Are school buses required to be equipped with passenger seat belts?
A. All vehicles manufactured after October 1992 are required to be equipped with lap-type seat belts or other child restraint systems. As of September 2013, all school buses without seat belts that were grandfathered under this law are out of service. Consequently, all school buses currently in use are required to be equipped with passenger seat belts.
Q. What is being done to ensure that students are safely transported to and from school?
A. School buses are inspected at least twice each year by special school bus inspection teams from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
School bus drivers are required to hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a passenger and school bus endorsement, and, therefore, are also required to meet federal standards for alcohol and drug testing. The standards include testing upon initial employment followed by random tests. In addition, school bus drivers must undergo a physical examination every two years, a criminal background check upon initial employment and at the time of renewal of their CDL, and submit an annual driver's abstract (i.e., a history of motor vehicle violations).
Q. Has the school transportation efficiency plan resulted in any actual efficiencies?
A. Yes, since the inception of the school transportation efficiency plan, the number of districts falling below the state standard of 120 percent vehicle utilization has decreased from 489 school districts to 194 for the 2011-2012 school year. The number of students transported through coordinated transportation services has grown throughout the years from approximately 8,000 to 63,000.