FAQs

Administration

How the decisions are made around transportation.

How do you determine the distance to my child’s school for transportation eligibility?

Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region (STSWR) uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to calculate the distance for transportation eligibility. Distances are measured from the end of your property to the closest access point to the school–not door to door. The maps used are provided by the Region of Waterloo, and include designated pathways and access points. Find your child’s transportation eligibility.

How does STSWR determine if there is a safe walking route to school?

STSWR works with the Region of Waterloo, local Municipalities and Townships to ensure that walking routes and paths meet specific safety criteria before being recommended by STSWR. The infrastructure needs to be adequate for the safe pedestrian traffic.

My child has been denied transportation, but the bus is half empty. Why can’t they ride?

Often referred to as “filling up the bus”, this is a question we regularly receive from parents and community members. While your child’s bus may not appear to be full, here  are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Not every student who is eligible for transportation rides the bus every day, but STSWR is still required to plan for their transportation because they are eligible under the board’s transportation policy.
  • The number of students that can be loaded on a bus is based on capacity standards set by the industry.
  • STSWR plans based on 3 students per seat up to Grade 6, and 2 students per seat from Grade 7 – 12.
  • Providing ineligible students with “courtesy” transportation is not allowed under either board’s transportation policy. This is because courtesy transportation has been identified by the Ministry of Education as an inefficient practice that adds to route times and increases the number of buses we have on the road.
My child has been denied transportation, how do I appeal that decision?

Please review the Transportation Appeal Process.

My child is in French Immersion at a school outside our area. Are they eligible for the bus?

No. The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) have determined that students attending French Immersion from outside the school’s regular attendance boundary are not eligible for transportation. Please refer to the board’s transportation procedure for more information.

My youngest child is eligible for the bus, but my older child is not. What can I do?

The distance policy varies depending on school board and grade. Each school board has their own distance policy. In the case of two siblings in different grades having different eligibilities, it is up to the parent to decide how they get their children to school. No exceptions will be given to older siblings to ride with their younger sibling.

What is STSWR and what is the relationship to each School Board?

Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region (STSWR) is a separate legal entity established by the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) to plan and oversee the delivery of student transportation in the Region. While the responsibility for establishing transportation policies remains with the individual school boards, STSWR is charged with applying the policies and procedures set by the boards in a consistent manner across the system. The STSWR staff members are employed directly by STSWR, and management reports to a board of directors made up of senior administration from the two school boards.

Driving

Are busing, walking and cycling are better than driving?

I have heard something about a walking school bus – what is it?

In 1992, Australian author, David Engwicht, introduced the ‘Walking Bus’ concept as a solution to the vicious school traffic cycle whereby parents drive their children to school because it is too dangerous for them to walk, increasing traffic, and forcing other parents to drive because it is now deemed too dangerous for their children to walk.

The Walking School Bus is a group of children who walk to school together. Parents or older students agree to be “walking leaders” and the group walks to school together, similar to a “carpool”. The group typically follows a specific route and schedule, which has designated “bus stops” that pick up students along the way.

Walking School Buses can be tailored to be as formal or informal as needed by a school. This is a safe, convenient, fun, and healthy way for children to travel to school.

Bicycle Train

A Bicycle Train is the same concept but instead of walking the students and adult(s) travel by bicycle.

Starting a Walking School Bus

There are three steps to starting a Walking School Bus in your community:

  1. Invite families who live nearby to walk
  2. Pick a route to school and do a test walk
  3. Decide how often the group will walk together – have fun!

Learn More About Walking School Buses

For more information, visit the Active & Safe Routes to School – Walking to School Bus page or contact your local Active & Safe Routes to School representative for more information:

Waterloo Catholic District School Board

Kathy Doherty-Masters, Healthy Active Living Consultant
519-578-3660 ext. 2279

Lindsay Ford, Manager of Planning
519-578-3660 ext. 2253

Waterloo Region District School Board

Lauren Agar, Senior Planner
519-570-0003 ext. 4596

Isn’t it more convenient to drive and drop off my child who qualifies for the walk zone?

If you think about the hassle of congested traffic near the school, that quick drop off might not be so convenient, after all. If you are in a car around a school, you are creating vehicle crowding that increases danger and confusion for students, could add time to your work commute or morning errands, and may even lead to a traffic ticket. Schools are built to be conveniently located in residential communities in order that more students can walk…when the students in the walk zone do walk, community streets flow better for all users.

Emergency Information

When things go wrong, what to do.

I have concerns about a bus operator/taxi cab driver. Who can I contact?

The safety of students is the number one priority for STSWR and the partner school boards. If you have concerns regarding a specific bus or taxi cab driver, please contact STSWR at 519-650-4934 x 221. If you suspect a driver is impaired or driving dangerously while operating a vehicle, please call 911 immediately.

Where can I go to see bus delays, cancellations or school closures?

STSWR will advise, via the media and the STSWR website, of any bus cancellations due to weather. In most cases these notifications will be sent out before 7am on the day of the cancellation. Should the weather deteriorate during the day causing an early dismissal, parents/guardian will be contacted by the school prior to the students being sent home. For the quickest updates, please follow us on Twitter @STSWR, sign up for the subscription service or check the website at www.stswr.ca. For the latest daily delays, check the Delays and Cancellations at https://bpweb.stswr.ca/Cancellations.aspx.

General

General information about busing and your child.

I am new to busing, what should I know for my child’s first day?

Once you have received the busing information online or from the school, you will know the assigned location and approximate time for the bus. Your child needs to be at the assigned location for the bus stop 5 minutes prior to the scheduled pick up time.

Be sure traffic is clear if you need to cross any roadways.

Your child should line up to board the bus. For younger JK and SK students, we suggest they sit close to the bus driver at the front of the bus.

For more information on the responsibilities of different stakeholders see Roles and Responsibilities.

My child has been hurt and cannot walk to school temporarily. What can I do? / My child is on crutches, what do I do?

Please review our policy on crutches.

Please complete a Special Request Form and submit it to your child’s principal. Once the request has been approved by the principal and the designated superintendent, STSWR will contact the school with your transportation information.

My child has forgotten an item on the bus. What can I do?

Contact the Operator for lost items. To do this you will need to know your child’s bus route.

To find this information use the Student Login function.

What if my child doesn’t know the way to school?

Walk the route with your child a few times until you’re comfortable that your child understands and can apply safe walking practices. This can take place before the school year begins or on weekends if you do not have the ability to accompany your child on school days. You can also look into the possibility of connecting with an older student living in your neighbourhood to create a walking buddy system. In addition, our Transportation Technicians can offer a walking route map. Please call us at 519-650-4934 x221.

Route and Schedule Information

Can I make special arrangements or changes in my child’s transportation directly with the bus driver?

No. Without a written notice from Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region, no bus driver is authorised to make changes to your child’s bus stop or bus schedule. To make changes to your pick-up or drop-off address, please contact your school.

How can I get information about the next school year?

Our interactive database provides the ability to select the current school year or next school year in order to retrieve school boundary and transportation information for your child.

Dates information becomes available for the next school year:

  • Attendance boundaries in the beginning of February.
  • Busing eligibility and route numbers in the last week of August.
How will my child know which bus to get on at school?

All vehicles have signs displayed in the window at the front of the bus indicating the route number. To find your child’s route number:

  1. Go to “Student Login” (link available on our homepage).
  2. Change the School Year to the year you are looking for (20172018)
  3. Enter your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN) – numbers only, no space, no dash. Please note that OENs are printed on report cards
  4. Enter your child’s birth date (dd/mm/yyyy)
  5. Enter your street number (house number only)
  6. Select your child’s school

Additionally:

  1. The school issues a kindergarten tag to each kindergarten student. Tags are fastened on backpacks with the PM stop location and route number facing outward. This allows staff to assist students in boarding the correct bus.
  2. Although it varies from school to school, bus lists are sometimes printed to support the teacher on duty in directing students toward the appropriate bus.
I am moving or changing my sitter who do I contact?

To change a home address, childcare/babysitter address, contact information or any other personal information, please contact your school’s main office. Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region arranges transportation based on the information provided by the school.

What school do I attend and am I eligible for busing?
  1. To determine which school your child should attend, use: Which School Do I Attend? (link on the home page of STSWR)
  2. To determine your child’s Transportation Eligibility, use: Transportation Eligibility
Where can I go to see bus delays, cancellations or school closures?

STSWR will advise, via the media and the STSWR website, of any bus cancellations due to weather. In most cases these notifications will be sent out before 7am on the day of the cancellation. Should the weather deteriorate during the day causing an early dismissal, parents/guardian will be contacted by the school prior to the students being sent home. For the quickest updates, please follow us on Twitter @STSWR, sign up for the subscription service or check the website at www.stswr.ca. For the latest daily delays, check the Delays and Cancellations at https://bpweb.stswr.ca/Cancellations.aspx.

Rules and Regulations

Can I make special arrangements or changes in my child’s transportation directly with the bus driver?

No. Without a written notice from Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region, no bus driver is authorised to make changes to your child’s bus stop or bus schedule. To make changes to your pick-up or drop-off address, please contact your school.

Can my child be picked-up or dropped off from a childcare address?

Yes. As long as the childcare is located at an address that is eligible for transportation from your child’s school, and the arrangements are consistent – always pick-up from the designated address and/or dropped off at a designated address. To request an alternate pick-up or drop-off, please contact your school and provide the alternate childcare address. Once approved, you will receive updated transportation information.

I am moving or changing my sitter who do I contact?

To change a home address, childcare/babysitter address, contact information or any other personal information, please contact your school’s main office. Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region arranges transportation based on the information provided by the school.

I have concerns about a bus operator/taxi cab driver. Who can I contact?

The safety of students is the number one priority for STSWR and the partner school boards. If you have concerns regarding a specific bus or taxi cab driver, please contact STSWR at 519-650-4934 x 221. If you suspect a driver is impaired or driving dangerously while operating a vehicle, please call 911 immediately.

If my child is involved in a musical program, can they take their instrument on the bus?

Musical instruments to a maximum size of 18 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches (46 cm by 26 cm by 26 cm) are allowed on the bus. Instruments over this size are not permitted on the bus.

My child has been denied transportation, how do I appeal that decision?

Please review the Transportation Appeal Process.

My child has been hurt and cannot walk to school temporarily. What can I do? / My child is on crutches, what do I do?

Please review our policy on crutches.

Please complete a Special Request Form and submit it to your child’s principal. Once the request has been approved by the principal and the designated superintendent, STSWR will contact the school with your transportation information.

My child is eligible for busing; do I need to notify anyone that my child will not be riding?

To ensure that your child is not mistakenly placed on a bus, please complete the Transportation Do Not Ride form and return it to your child’s school as soon as possible.

If your child will occasionally be riding the bus, do not complete this form, it is only for students who will never be riding the bus. For safety reasons, it is highly recommended that young children have a consistent travel arrangement.

Walking

Walking is a healthy option!

Aren’t the walking distances too far for small children?

An average Kindergartener can walk one kilometre in ten minutes, and stamina for walking (and all day long) improves quickly with daily practice. Often, small children have a harder time sitting still than they do moving for that amount of time. In fact, 20 minutes of physical activity at the beginning of the day can boost metabolism, increase mental focus for up to four hours, and help your child sleep better at night.

How can my student handle the weather on the walk to school?

In Canada, we face some unique weather issues. But school children all across Canada spend 15-50 minutes outside at a time for recess and must be dressed appropriately to take advantage of that time for fresh air, physical activity, and open spaces. If they are equipped for the walk to school, they will also be equipped for that outdoor recess time.

I have heard something about a walking school bus – what is it?

In 1992, Australian author, David Engwicht, introduced the ‘Walking Bus’ concept as a solution to the vicious school traffic cycle whereby parents drive their children to school because it is too dangerous for them to walk, increasing traffic, and forcing other parents to drive because it is now deemed too dangerous for their children to walk.

The Walking School Bus is a group of children who walk to school together. Parents or older students agree to be “walking leaders” and the group walks to school together, similar to a “carpool”. The group typically follows a specific route and schedule, which has designated “bus stops” that pick up students along the way.

Walking School Buses can be tailored to be as formal or informal as needed by a school. This is a safe, convenient, fun, and healthy way for children to travel to school.

Bicycle Train

A Bicycle Train is the same concept but instead of walking the students and adult(s) travel by bicycle.

Starting a Walking School Bus

There are three steps to starting a Walking School Bus in your community:

  1. Invite families who live nearby to walk
  2. Pick a route to school and do a test walk
  3. Decide how often the group will walk together – have fun!

Learn More About Walking School Buses

For more information, visit the Active & Safe Routes to School – Walking to School Bus page or contact your local Active & Safe Routes to School representative for more information:

Waterloo Catholic District School Board

Kathy Doherty-Masters, Healthy Active Living Consultant
519-578-3660 ext. 2279

Lindsay Ford, Manager of Planning
519-578-3660 ext. 2253

Waterloo Region District School Board

Lauren Agar, Senior Planner
519-570-0003 ext. 4596

Isn’t it more convenient to drive and drop off my child who qualifies for the walk zone?

If you think about the hassle of congested traffic near the school, that quick drop off might not be so convenient, after all. If you are in a car around a school, you are creating vehicle crowding that increases danger and confusion for students, could add time to your work commute or morning errands, and may even lead to a traffic ticket. Schools are built to be conveniently located in residential communities in order that more students can walk…when the students in the walk zone do walk, community streets flow better for all users.

My child has been hurt and cannot walk to school temporarily. What can I do? / My child is on crutches, what do I do?

Please review our policy on crutches.

Please complete a Special Request Form and submit it to your child’s principal. Once the request has been approved by the principal and the designated superintendent, STSWR will contact the school with your transportation information.

What if my child doesn’t know the way to school?

Walk the route with your child a few times until you’re comfortable that your child understands and can apply safe walking practices. This can take place before the school year begins or on weekends if you do not have the ability to accompany your child on school days. You can also look into the possibility of connecting with an older student living in your neighbourhood to create a walking buddy system. In addition, our Transportation Technicians can offer a walking route map. Please call us at 519-650-4934 x221.