OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Education System

Student Transportation

Who is responsible for the transportation of students?

Section 1006.21, Florida Statutes, requires that school districts provide transportation to students in kindergarten through grade 12, as well as students in prekindergarten disability programs, when such transportation is necessary to provide appropriate educational opportunities that would otherwise not be available.

What's the state's role in student transportation?

The Department of Education provides transportation technical assistance, including sponsoring training programs and coordinating the purchase of school buses. To partially offset the cost of school districts' student transportation costs, the Legislature provides funding using a formula designed to include the specific traits of the district, such as the cost of living and population density.

What categories of students are eligible for state transportation funding?

The state provides funding for the transportation of the following types of students enrolled in district schools:
  • students with disabilities needing specialized transportation;
  • participants in teenage parent programs;
  • pre-kindergarten students;
  • students whose homes are more than a reasonable walking distance (two miles) from their assigned school;
  • other students, such as those enrolled in vocational or dual enrollment programs, who are transported from one school to another school; and
  • elementary school students, up to grade 6, if they would encounter hazardous walking conditions (as defined in state statutes) while walking to or from school.
The decision on which students receive transportation is up to the individual school districts, with the federally mandated exception of students with disabilities needing specialized transportation to go to and from their schools.
School districts and charter schools may provide student transportation, at their discretion, to students who choose to enroll in a district-operated school or charter school as part of the controlled open enrollment process.  Controlled open enrollment allows a parent from any school district in the state whose child is not subject to a current expulsion or suspension order to seek enrollment and transport his or her child to any public school in the state of Florida, including a charter school, which has not reached capacity.

How many students are transported each year, and how much is spent providing student transportation services?

The Department of Education collects and publishes a broad range of student transportation data statewide and by school district. This data includes the average number of students transported, the number of daily buses and bus stops, and costs associated with student transportation.

Can parents request the district provide transportation for their children if they are not eligible for state funding?

School districts have the option to transport students who are ineligible for state funding (generally referred to as courtesy riders) with the entire cost of the transportation being paid with local funds or by the parents. Transporting courtesy riders who can safely walk to school results in districts having to purchase additional vehicles and hire additional drivers, and increases maintenance costs. While transporting children who live close to their schools can significantly increase transportation costs, it may be appropriate to do so in some cases for safety reasons.

Unsafe walking conditions can be divided into two categories: those that meet state-defined criteria (contained in s. 1006.23, Florida Statutes) for hazardous walking conditions and those that are locally defined. The state provides funding for the transportation of elementary students facing certain hazardous walking conditions, including high traffic counts and speed limits. School districts also may use local funds to pay student transportation costs for students facing other situations, such as crossing a bridge that lacks a pedestrian walking area. Information on unsafe walking conditions within a county can be obtained from the local school district's director of transportation.

Are districts using their buses in an efficient manner?

Bus efficiency, as measured by average bus occupancy (the average number of students riding a bus per day), varies by district. In general, a district with high average bus occupancy uses its buses more efficiently than a district with low average bus occupancy. The average bus occupancy index encourages greater bus utilization.

Updates

School Bus Safety.  2020-64, Laws of Florida, increasesthe minimum civil penalty for failure to stop for a school bus from $100 to $200.  For a subsequent offense within five years, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) must suspend the driver license of the driver for not less than 180 days and not more than one year, instead of the current suspension of 90 days to six months.

The law also increases the minimum civil penalty for passing a school bus on the side that children enter and exit, from $200 to $400.  For a subsequent offense within five years, DHSMV must suspend the driver license of the driver for not less than 360 days and not more than two years, instead of the current suspension of 180 days to one year. 

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
Florida School District 2017-18 Transportation Profiles, Florida Department of Education
Florida School Bus Specifications, Florida Department of Education

Student transportation general instructions, published annually by the Florida Department of Education, are available on its website.
Websites of Interest
School Transportation Management, Florida Department of Education
School Bus Safety, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
School Transportation News
Performance Information


Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapter 1006 Part I E and s. 1011.68, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

School Transportation, 850-245-9795, email: schtrans@fldoe.org

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