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Bus Route Design

On-time status

Transportation is “on time” when a particular bus, depending on grade level, arrives on campus 10-30 minutes before the bell rings. Elementary bus routes are designed to arrive 10-20 minutes before the bell rings. Middle and high school bus routes are designed to arrive 10-30 minutes before the bell rings. This arrival window also allows for a staggered drop off.

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Morning transportation

The time a school opens its doors limits the options available for route planning. The graphic on this page illustrates the transportation scenario of a school that opens its doors at 7:30 a.m., with staff available to monitor and manage students in the building. Preferred route schedules have the first load of students arriving at 7:30 a.m. The same bus would then serve another neighborhood, picking up students for a second load. Considering the very tight 10-minute arrival window for elementary schools and 20-minute arrival window for middle and high schools, the second loads are closest to the school, allowing time to pick students up and return to the school within the arrival window.

The alternate method on the graphic also illustrates the reversal of this route (closest students first, farthest students last); an additional 20 minutes is necessary for the bus to arrive at the school with a second load of students. This would cause the bus to arrive 10 minutes after classes begin, based on the 7:30 a.m. dropoff time for first-load students. The main factor contributing to this delay is the 15-minute empty bus travel time to arrive at the first stop on the second load.

Picking up students closest to the school for a second load has an empty-bus travel time of five minutes. Picking up students farthest from the school for a second load has an empty-bus travel time of 15 minutes. The total time — from the first student being picked up to the last student being dropped off — is 35 minutes with the preferred route and 55 minutes with the alternate method.

Afternoon transportation

The above morning transportation description also applies — but in an  opposite flow — for afternoon dismissal. In the preferred route the empty bus returns to school after dropping off the first load at 2:50 p.m., in lieu of the alternate method, win which the bus arrives at 3:10 p.m. The overall elapsed time from the beginning of the route to the last stop is 45 minutes for the preferred method and 1 hour and 5 minutes for the alternate method. The school staff is a secondary consideration to the student experience. If HCPS opted for the alternate route the school staff must stay at the school an additional 20 minutes to supervise students until the second-load bus arrives.

HCPS transfer hub transportation

Transportation is arranged from a neighborhood bus stop, using the student’s home address, and provided to each center or school. The bus stop location will be consistent with the same bus stop location for “zoned” students. New students will complete a transportation registration form provided by the specialty center or program coordinator. Returning students will receive notification of the yearly registration process taking place in the spring.

Transportation for specialty center and program students who reside outside of the school’s attendance zone is described below.

Hubs: Morning transportation

Students are picked up from neighborhood bus stops and transported to one of the four regional transfer hubs. These hubs are located at Highland Springs, Hermitage, Deep Run and Douglas Freeman high schools. Students then board a designated bus to transport them from the hub to their school.

Families that choose to drop students off at the hub in the morning must arrive no later than 7:40 a.m.

Transportation personnel from the HCPS Department of Pupil Transportation will be stationed at the hubs to help direct students. Students must follow the direction of the transfer-hub coordinator. The school building at the transfer hub is not open for student access.

Hubs: Afternoon transportation

Students board a shuttle bus identified to return to the assigned hub. Students then board their assigned buses to go home to their neighborhood bus stop.

Maggie Walker Governor’s School students board a shuttle bus identified to return to the student’s home high school. Students then board their assigned bus to go home to their neighborhood bus stop.

Other facts

The hub system is the most efficient way that we can provide transportation to students attending schools out of their home attendance zones. Some of the students have lengthy travel times, especially those who live farthest from a regional hub. The high school morning bell rings at 8:55 a.m., but some students have neighborhood stop times earlier than 7 a.m. In the afternoon, buses depart high schools by 4:05 p.m., but some students have neighborhood stop times later than 5:15 p.m. Because hubs must release all buses at the same time (morning and afternoon), students with the shortest shuttles between the hub and school may arrive at school quite early in the morning, and have a delay at their afternoon hub waiting for all buses to arrive.