School bus questions? Call the DCPS transportation hotline

Jacksonville parents can call 904-381-RIDE to get their questions answered

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many Jacksonville parents may have questions about their child's transportation before Aug. 13, the first day of school for Duval County Public Schools.

That's why News4Jax found out answers to some of the mostly commonly asked questions.

The school district has also set up a transportation hotline that parents can call. The phone number is 904-381-RIDE (7433). 

The hotline is open until Aug. 23, from 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Parents are asked to have their address and the name of their child's school ready when they call. 

RELATED LINKS: Transportation FAQs | School bus routes and times | Kindergarten bus riders | Magnet transportation

On Monday, News4Jax visited the call room inside the district's transportation building, where about two dozen people man the hotline. 

According to the district, about 3,500 incoming and outgoing calls happen every week in the room when the transportation hotline is open. 

Kerry Brewer, who's working the hotline for her second year, personally makes and takes about 200 calls a day.

She said there are several questions she gets asked most frequently.

"If we can change your route closer to their house, can you pick them up right in front of our door," Brewer said. "We can’t do that for everyone, but we try to satisfy them as much as we can."

Parents of kindergartners must fill out of a form before their child can ride the school bus. Parents can pick up the form at their child's school. 

Kindergartners riding the school bus for the first time will be give a badge that can be zip-tied onto their backpack or placed on a lanyard that they can wear around their neck. Kindergartners are encouraged to have the badge on them for the entire school year, or at least for the first few weeks, until the bus driver becomes familiar with them.

DCPS Assistant Superintendent of Operations Don Nelson said Monday that bus drivers were already back to work, preparing for the new year.

"This week, you may see buses driving around town, checking out their routes," Nelson said. "For bus drivers that have changed routes, it’s just a familiarization period."

As long as a DCPS student lives further than a mile and a half from their school, the student is eligible for bus transportation. That's a half-mile less than state requirement of a 2-mile radius. Students who attend Magnet schools can also take the bus.

DCPS has 860 buses, about 900 bus drivers. The school district does about 10 million miles a year in transportation, makes about 3,600 bus trips and about 5,000 bus stops.

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