Bus Program FAQ

Contact Information

Who can I contact if I have questions about the bus program?

Please contact Manuel Pardo, Director of Finance and Operations, at mpardo@village-school.org or (310) 459-8411 x601.

Cost

How much does the bus service cost?

The service is free. The school does not charge parents for the bus service.

Enrollment

How do I sign up for the bus service, and do I have to sign up every year?

Every year the school will send a link in the email communications to parents around the middle of May (including incoming families for the new school year). You are asked to sign up as soon as possible as the order of the enrollments matters. Families signing up earlier will have priority over later ones, after accounting for seniority for existing students in the bus route the prior year, and student siblings. You will have to sign up once per year between late May and the beginning of August as long as you would like the bus service.

If I signed up for the bus originally, can I change my mind later and cancel the bus enrollment?

Yes, you may decide not to use the bus anymore, but once you have made this decision, it will be final for the rest of the year and we may not reinstate your child on the bus for that same year, as another student from a waiting list may have already taken your seat, and the changes in route times may further impact everyone else in that route.

We are a new family and our daughter is only entering Kindergarten this year. Should we wait until mid-year until Brittany is ready to take the bus to enroll her?

No. We recommend you enroll her as soon as possible when you receive the enrollment link in the spring, as the buses will have otherwise filled up by the time you want to enroll later in the fall, and we may not have any seats available for you at that time. Enrolling mid-year also may disrupt the route times for all the other riders in the bus. You can always drop out later if it doesn't work for you.

Are there waiting lists for some buses?

Yes. Busy routes like the Santa Monica routes are always full and often have waiting lists. If a seat opens up you will be given a chance to take that seat. However, this may not happen until several weeks into the school year, or it may not happen at all if seats don't vacate. If you are a new family to the school living in Santa Monica in particular, you might have to wait for an open seat. If you are a returning family your child most likely will have a seat.

Scheduling

Can I have my child take the bus any day of the week or only as needed?

We ask that bus riders commit to ride the buses consistently, five days per week as much as possible, to make good use of the limited seats and to keep the route times as exact and predictable as possible for all of the other students. Exceptions are made for students staying at Village for after school programs such as enrichment courses or athletics (when in season).

Do buses run only one service for the morning and on service for the afternoon?

Yes. There is only one round of buses bringing students to school in the morning, and one round taking students home in the afternoon. If students decide to stay late for after school sports, these families will have to arrange their own transportation.

I am divorced/separated from my child's other parent. Can the bus pick up at our different homes different days of the week?

Depending on how complicated your schedule with the other parent is. Depending on the bus route and space permitting, we may be able to accommodate two addresses for your children, but can’t promise we will be able to do it.

Will the bus driver assigned to my child's bus be the same person the entire year?

Yes, unless something unforeseeable happens that the bus driver and needs to be replaced, or is out sick that day. For the most part, your bus driver will be assigned to your bus route for the entire year and will be familiar with you and your home. Occasionally you may see a substitute driver.

How may students ride each bus?

Six of our buses have 20 seats, and 2 buses have 24 seats. The buses overall are filled at around 95% capacity.

Are the bus route times consistent?

The morning pick-up times are very consistent, rarely deviating from the scheduled pick-up time by a minute or two. The afternoon drop-off times have more variability since afternoon traffic is more unpredictable and also as student riders participate in afternoon sports.

What if we are running late in the morning, and the bus is waiting outside but my child is not ready?

If the bus driver arrived at your home on time, the driver will wait up to 1 minute for your child to show up. If the wait is longer, the driver is instructed to drive away as the whole route will be otherwise delayed for the remaining pick-ups. You will then have to drive your child to school. If your pick-up time posted is 7:30 AM, for example, and the bus shows up early at 7:25 AM, the bus is supposed to wait until 7:30 AM, which is your posted time.

Are the first weeks of school different than other weeks?

Yes. For the first weeks of school, the bus routes have not been fully tested yet as the times and the number of students that will ultimately stay enrolled fluctuates. Although dropouts are few, some parents choose to drop out from the bus program, and this happens usually in the first 2 weeks of school. Also, new students in Kindergarten sometimes wait three or four weeks to ride the bus until they feel comfortable, and this may also impact the bus route times. By October the routes will have lowered their variability considerably and the routes should be running pretty consistently. We ask you to be patient for the first 2 or 3 weeks until the route times normalize.

What if my child is sick and won't be riding the bus on a given morning?

The bus company will mail you a route confirmation packet before classes begin in the fall that should include a yellow sign that reads "Student Not Attending" that you can display on your front door or window where the bus driver can see it from the street. If your house doesn't have a door where the driver can easily read the sign, you can also exit your house and wave off the driver. Even if no one comes out to inform the driver, the driver will eventually drive off after waiting one minute.

What if my child will be staying in after school sports and won't be riding the afternoon bus on certain days of the week?

Please fill out the after school form posted in the school website and submit it to the school's front office (Ms. Denell Jacobs) describing the changes to your afternoon bus schedule. Our teachers verify which children are supposed to board which buses every afternoon. They will make the necessary adjustments.

Routing

How may bus routes does the school offer and what areas do they service?

The school leases 8 buses operated by Mission School Transportation (formerly named Atlantic Express). Approximately 46% of students enrolled in the bus program live in Pacific Palisades, 27% live in Brentwood and 16% live in Santa Monica, with the remaining 11% enrollees in Venice, Marina del Rey, West LA, Westchester, Palms and other farther areas. The buses service around 155 – 160 students per year.

What are the pick-up and drop-off times?

They will depend on your home's location relative to the school. Most routes begin picking up around 7:00 AM or 7:10 AM, with the last students being picked up around 7:45 AM (the ones that live closest to the school). However, if your home is east of the 405 FWY, or south of the Marina 90 FWY, your pick up time may be as early as 6:10 AM for the homes located the farthest from school (closer to Downtown LA or the South Bay, for instance).

Drop-offs start at 3:15 PM for the students living closest to school, with most other drop-offs occurring from 3:30 PM to 4:00 PM. However, if your home is located farther, and depending on unpredictable afternoon traffic (especially along Sunset Blvd.) the drop-off may be later than 4:30 PM.

I am already enrolled in the bus program, but the pick-up time I was giving in the morning is too early. I actually know a shortcut that the bus could make that would make the bus route shorter. Can I have a later pick-up time?

The bus company, with input from the school, designs the routes every year to be the most efficient, mapping out all the home locations for the given routes. They are professionals at this and have designed the routes with the interests of all students in mind. Although many parents would like to be picked up last in the morning, obviously this is not possible.

Please also understand that the buses don't drive like regular vehicles. They drive at lower speeds, must wait at each of 20 students' stops to pick them up, must wait for the students to buckle their seat belts, must only make left turns on streets with a traffic signal or stop sign, can't always make U-turns on narrow streets and must drive around the block, mostly pick up students on the right side of their street so they don't have to cross the street, etcetera. All of these safety measures take the buses more time than regular cars.

Is the bus service door-to-door or does it use hub locations for pick-up and drop-offs?

The great majority of students (88%) are receiving door-to-door service. The other 12% of students are using a hub (usually only in the mornings). They are asked to use the hub given the geographical location of their homes and to make the routes work and arrive on time, and sometimes due to the traffic impact of stopping the bus in front of their house on a street that is busy and may be unsafe for boarding children.

My son wants to attend a playdate or another event at Julio's house after school. Can he simply exit the bus at Julio's drop-off?

No; unfortunately we don't allow this. The school's policy is that all students will be dropped off only at their own homes (or designated hubs), and may not be dropped off at someone else's home. This is to avoid any possible miscommunication from both the child (claiming that he should exit the bus at another destination, which is not known to his own parents) or the parents, not communicating the time or day of the change to the school at the appropriate time, or the bus driver not understanding the change. This is best for the safety of your child. Please make your own transportation arrangements for your child's extracurricular activities after your child has been dropped off safely at your home.

Does Village School have a way to inform the parents of last-minute route changes or delays?

Using the SafeStop Bus Locater App, parents are able to track the location of their child(ren)’s bus for the morning and afternoon bus routes in real time. This live application works with your smart phone, iPad or desktop computer, and shows your child’s bus location every 30 seconds. There is no cost to parents for the app or this service.

Student Behavior

What are the behaviors expected of students in the bus?

The buses are basically an extension of the school, so the students are expected to behave in the same respectful manner as they would toward their teachers and classmates in the classrooms. The bus drivers have been trained to drive the buses. They have not been trained to discipline students, especially while the vehicle is in motion. Students are asked not engage in behavior that could distract the bus driver from doing his or her job safely. The school may remove a student from the bus route if deemed to be causing problems to the driver or to other students.

I live far from the school and my child has a long ride from and to school. Can she bring food on the bus?

No food of any kind is allowed on the bus. Students may only bring bottled water. If the student has a long ride home in the afternoon, the school recommends that the child eat a cereal bar or similar snack at the end of the school day and before boarding the bus.

My child is in the bus too long and gets bored. Can he use a hand held gaming system, cellphone, or other electronic device for entertainment?

The school does not promote the use of these devices, but understands that children can get bored at times on long rides. Bored students can irritate either the bus driver or the other students. The school will allow games that have been rated to be appropriate for young children (by Common Sense Media or other public venue) and will only allow devices that can't access the Internet. If devices don't meet these conditions, they will be confiscated

Personal electronic devices are not permitted to be used on campus and must be powered off upon arrival and placed in a backpack for the duration of the school day.

Other

Can I use both the bus service and also the school's carpool pass?

No. Unfortunately you must choose only one method. Due to the City of LA's conditional use permit issued to the school for traffic mitigation purposes in the Village area of the Palisades, and with 4 schools operating in the same area, you must only be either a bus rider or a carpool user, but not both.

What happens if there is an emergency, an accident, or an earthquake while my child is on the bus?

The school and the bus company have procedures in place to respond appropriately and effectively in these circumstances. Please see your Parent Handbook for more details.

In the unlikely event that we are not home to receive our child when she gets dropped off, will she be let out of the bus anyway?

No. The bus drivers have been instructed to wait until an adult (known to your child) is there to pick her up. If after a couple of minutes of waiting, you -- or the authorized adult -- don’t show, the bus will call dispatch and ask dispatch to try to reach you by cell phone. If you still can’t be reached, the bus driver will continue the bus route with your child in the bus, dropping off other students in the meantime until dispatch instructs the bus to return to your house. Depending where the bus is at that point in the route, you may have to drive to intercept the bus in another location to pick her up.

What if my child does not report to the bus boarding area in the afternoon? Will the bus depart?

This is very rare, but if there is a confusion or your child was playing around campus when they should have been boarding the bus, the bus may depart and your child will remain safely in our afterschool care program on the Swarthmore yard. The buses will have to depart. All students staying to be picked up are supervised at all times and have activities to do. Please come to the Swarthmore campus to pick up your child no later than 5:00 PM. (The school will assess an afterschool care fee depending on the time you pick up your child).

I trust my son and I give him his own key to enter the house when I am not there. Is it OK for the bus driver to just drop him off without me being there?

No. The bus drivers are instructed that they must have visual contact with you or another authorized adult in your house before they can proceed with the bus route. Although you don't have to come out of the house all the way, the driver must be able to see you. This is for the safety of the students so that they are not dropped off in an empty house without adult supervision.

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