Home > Community, Education, Services, Surveys > To Bus or Not to Bus…. please help answer the question!

To Bus or Not to Bus…. please help answer the question!

The wheels on the bus go round and round and round and round…. or sometimes not at all if you are taking a bus in NYC. Often times the right school for your child is not walking distance, and in some cases an hour commute twice a day isn’t going to work out for one reason or another. When you are in the city, and when your child has special needs, they probably aren’t going to walk or bike or subway back and forth on their own.

I have been very fortunate so far and have not had to put James on a bus. When I lived in Ohio I drove him back and forth each way on my way to school, and in VA when I worked much longer hours I had a lot of help from Ryan getting James to and from school. In NYC we have been fortunate enough to live 7 blocks or less from James’s school, so it has been an easy decision to spend a little extra time walking with James and getting some exercise, too. Except on the days when I have 1, 2 or 3 whiny kids and a stroller full of groceries. And it’s raining.

We are currently considering moving north by 30+ more blocks. Not walking distance anymore. Totally doable by subway, but much less convenient for Ryan and I. Ryan would have a much longer commute so stopping to drop off James would add even more time to it. I don’t anticipate dragging two toddlers downtown on the subway once or twice a day to get James would be pleasant either, though I haven’t ruled it out. That leaves me to struggle with the bus issue.

I admit it. I have a “bus issue.” Not without reason, though I may sound like a hypochondriac to some people, including my own family. The pros to having James take the bus are obvious: less effort and time on our part in getting James where he needs to go. The cons I am sure of: a much longer trip to and from school for James, resulting in a longer day away from home. Then there are the potential cons: falling up or down bus steps and injuring himself or others, getting bullied on the bus, not getting off at the right stop one way or the other, having an accident on the bus because the trip is too long and nobody made him go to the bathroom before leaving school, less face to face time with teachers because we don’t do drop off or pick up anymore, a more tired child arriving at home to start homework, resulting in more tantrums and more stress at home.

The potential cons, as with many issues, are what really scare me. Many of the potential cons need only to happen once in order for something really bad to have happened, and with a special needs child the likelihood of them happening more than once is much greater. Also, other people’s stories. I have heard so many stories, mostly of the horror variety, about special needs children and buses I cannot even count them. As my husband likes to point out, most people don’t walk around talking about the nice bus ride their child took to school that day, so I am asking you to. Please share with me your stories and opinions, good or bad, regarding NYC school buses. I am especially interested in hearing from people who have had direct experience in putting their special needs child on a bus for special needs students in Manhattan, but welcome any related stories and comments.

I would love to be able to make a rational, educated decision about the bus. So please, share your bus stories in the comments section. Every bit of information is helpful, and I plan to post my findings as I look further into the “bus issue.”

To bus or not to bus?

  1. Rachel
    April 14, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Also — in NYC — unlike in some other places in the country — all special needs buses come with a matron. She is there to keep the peace … Ours has been wonderful.. she calls when they are outside, she calls when they are late, she called a couple of time when my son was upset for whatever reason and had him talk to me enroute…. Good luck with whatever you decide.

    • April 14, 2011 at 8:07 am

      Thank you for all of the comments so far – I really appreciate them! A matron is on every bus? That’s a relief. I wonder if James would qualify for last on first off based on any of his issues…

      • Rachel
        April 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

        I don’t think that’s necessarily a matter of qualification – it wasn’t in our case – it just worked out to be a timing issue… geographically we’re very far from our school so even on the best day – it’s an hours drive… Heading from uptown to downtown – it’s unlikely that you’d be last picked up since it just doesn’t make sense.. unless a bunch of kids are travelling from much further uptown or queens or the bronx. You could try to qualify for the shortest ride “possible” which may still be an hour – travelling through midtown at rush hour.

      • April 14, 2011 at 8:28 am

        Sorry let me be more specific – when I say uptown to downtown I mean the 140s to the 90s, not the actual downtown part of Manhattan πŸ™‚ Of course, who knows where we will end up for middle school… a whole new issue!

  2. Rachel
    April 14, 2011 at 7:57 am

    yes – my son takes the bus from bay ridge brooklyn to queens roundtrip everyday. In the beginning there were hiccups … delays, too long a ride … eventually kids were taken off my son’s bus and he became the last pick up and first dropped off and we’ve settled into a comfortable rhythm. We are lucky that our bus is not shared by any other schools. You might check with your son’s school as to whether the kids on buses are sharing with other schools… See if anyone else takes the bus from near your neighborhood and you can get an idea of the length of time on the bus. I’ve heard from many parents who say the bus is their kids favorite time of the day … Unfortunately, there are only three kids on my son’s bus and two of them are older so they’ve already got their headphones on and there’s not socialization happening for him but for others it’s very common. It’s free so it’s worth trying out … you can always drop it or use it only one way if it doesn’t work for you.

  3. Marcie
    April 14, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Hunter was transported solely by car (Tri-Start transportation) until just this school year. Now he goes to the county’s school, and all of their kids are bused. He LOVES it. Truly, he does. I was so nervous, all these years… and now I know he’d have been just fine. His trip IS fairly long (the school is about 20 min away and his trip is about 50 min. each way), but again, he likes it πŸ™‚

  4. Tracy Ehrlich
    April 14, 2011 at 5:22 am

    My daughter has an hour commute from Manhattan to Long Island and an incredible bus driver so we have been spared the horror stories. If you have any medical justification for limited time travel – e.g. sleep disorder, feeding disorder, behavior, seizures – you can get that and it helps alot. My daughter is always last pick up and first drop off.

  5. April 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Hm, that’s a tough one. I don’t have any bus stories, but I haul 3 kids from school in Chelsea to the UWS – about 1.5 hours round trip. It’s not fun, but it’s gotten easier with time and practice, and now it’s built into my routine. Plus I get to spend that time WITH my kids, rather than biting my nails, freaking out that they are five minutes late (I would totally be freaking out, too). Once you have a system for subway travel with all three (which of course you already do, I’m sure) it’s totally workable.

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