The Great School Bus Mystery

August 31, 2008 at 9:50 am 11 comments

Busing in the Chicago Public School system is a bit weird.  Some schools (I think magnet, gifted) will bus students who live within some range like over 1.6 miles and less than 5 miles.  There used to be WAY more busing going on until Arne Duncan realized that cutting was a way to save major money.  And jeez, the inefficiency of hauling kids from neighborhood to neighborhood all over the city is downright crazy in the age of high gas prices (not to mention a major traffic pain-in-the-butt.) 

I was surprised to get a postcard in the mail saying my son is eligible for a bus ride to his new Kindergarten.  The pickup point is our neighborhood school, so the bus ride is probably less than a mile.  (Inefficiency #1) I followed the directions on the postcard and called the bus company to see what our pickup/dropoff time would be.  Few days before school was starting and they were still “working it out.” (Inefficiency #2)  OK, new route, I guess.  They also told me that my son was the only kid scheduled for that stop. (Inefficiency #3)

His program only has K and 1st grade so I can’t even figure that there will be many kids on the bus.   I’m envisioning a giant bus with 3 tiny little kids all sitting at the front by the driver (I imagine it’s later in life that they angle for the coveted back-of-the-bus seats.)  If this is true, it might actually be more efficient for CPS to send a taxi to pick them all up.

So on the last business day before school started, the bus company still didn’t know the pickup time.  The school told me there IS one other kid scheduled for that stop so they will start sending a bus there each day (inefficiency #4) just in case.  I told the school that my son is shy and probably won’t be ready for the bus for at least a month (or maybe I won’t be ready for it.)  But for now, the bus will be stopping there each day.  However WHEN it will be there is anyone’s guess.

So the bus system is ripe with inefficiencies (if I have not made that point clear enough.)  But… for any family without the means or schedule to drive their kid to school every day the bus would be the only way to get them to the school that they lotteried/tested into.  And that – I can’t argue with.

Entry filed under: School bus.

Our CPS Gifted/Classical Testing Experience (Pre-Kindergarten) Big idea – “make your own high school”

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Scooby_Snacks  |  September 3, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Look for CPS to complely phase out busing in the next couple of years as they are now in full compliance with the court ordered desegregation decree

  • 2. C  |  June 6, 2009 at 1:30 am

    How rigid or flexible is CPS with the transportation boundaries for classical schools? We live 3 blocks outside of the range of our classical school’s busing boundaries. Anyway I can negotiate for my child to be picked up?

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  June 6, 2009 at 1:58 am

    My instinct is that they’re pretty rigid. I think your best bet could be walking your child into the boundary to be picked up, but they might only do it if another child was already being picked up there.
    My son’s school has some senseless boundary that is only about one quarter of a mile west of the school and I don’t know of parents who’ve gotten around it. If you’re out, you’re out. But it’s always worth a call!

  • 4. DB  |  April 4, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Check out our family owned transportation service at or on Facebook at,!/pages/Chicago-IL/Legacy-Shuttle-LLC/127617239402?ref=ts

    We currently serve families at: Ray, McDade, Beasley, Donoghue, Amandala, Fermi, and more.

    Spaces are limited.

  • 5. Lowery  |  August 28, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I know this is an old thread, but has anyone been told bussing info for this year? I just got a post card and when i called the company for pick up time and route number they said they still didn’t know and should have it by Friday.

  • 6. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 6:40 am

    We don’t use the bus, but that’s consistent with what I’ve heard from my son’s classmates parents this week.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 7. LSmom  |  August 28, 2014 at 6:41 am

    @Lowery, same situation here. I’ve read here that the busing tends to be a mess for at least the first week or so, but was worried that if we drive at first then it will be tough to make the switch to the bus (necessary because of our work schedules).

  • 8. Lowery  |  August 28, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I wonder how you know when to pick up your child after school this week if they don’t know how long it will actually take to get them home? Do they call you or do you just have to hang out at the pick up location waiting? Is there somewhere to track the bus online?

  • 9. HSObsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 8:12 am

    (Sorry I don’t have any insights into the busing problem.) Wow, TBT to when CPSO posts would only get a handful of comments!

  • 10. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Sadly yes, the first option is what you’ll need to do.
    Well, I think you’ll get an expected dropoff time but it could be up to an hour late that first week, so take a book.

    It all gets worked out over time.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 11. Lowery  |  September 11, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Yep. minimum of 10 mins (I guess that is on time) max of one hour late…so far. My daughter actually loves taking the bus but it really stresses me out! Hopefully it settles down soon.

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