Friday, September 25, 2009

Hot topic: School buses

An SF K Files reader asked me to start this thread:
As I start looking into the 2010 enrollment process, I've started seeing posts about school buses. Where I live I never see a school bus other than one that I know picks up a special needs child in our neighborhood. How does one find out school bus routes? I just assumed it's up to me to get my kid to school and was looking only a schools I could walk to or were on our commute path, but if there were a bus option, I might be willing to look beyond my immediate neighborhood and investigate undersubscribed schools farther from home. Any advice?


  1. Current school bus routes are listed on Look at the site map under "Transportation." All routes are listed. Under each school's information bus info is usually also listed.

    Be advised that with the changing enrollment system they may be changing the routes. They have also on occasion dropped low-attendance buses to save money. The ones we have used K-5 and 6-8 have been very well occupied though, thankfully.

  2. This is just one mom's opinion of course, but considering the state of California's finances and school funding cuts, I consider it doubtful that school bus service will continue at all.

  3. I think they may eliminate some of the bus routes that date back to the consent decree era. I think they will keep some others that are well-used that make sense for their current diversity goals. There are some that serve the immersion schools that move the populations they need linguistically to and from the school.

    I would love to hear from Rachel Norton or any other BoE member as to what the thinking is, though.

  4. Unfortunately I don't have time or patience to look at the text bus schedule for every school in the district and try to figure out if they have a bus route that comes near me. I had hoped that school bus route info would help me expand my list of "feasible" schools by giving me transportation options near my home. Instead it looks like all I can do is wait to be assigned and see if our school has buses at all and if one comes anywhere near my house? So I'll continue to focus on schools close by (i.e. neighborhood schools) and cross my fingers.

    Am I crazy to think that if I could figure out which buses stop near my house, it would allow me to look at schools I'm not currently considering due to distance/traffic/school start time, etc. Seems like buses are an afterthought, not the integral part of the "school choice" system. Are we really expected to have the time to drive our kids across the city for an 8:40 school start time and be back at 2:40 to pick them up? We have one car and two jobs and no time for that.

  5. Hi Marnie,

    The bus routes were developed under the old OER system and assignment areas. The lottery-with-preference system has evolved since then, so you are right to point out that the current system and the bus schedules are not articulated well.

    I know many families, including my own, who take advantage of the bus system. It tends to help those of us who live on the east side of town, especially the southeast--with the exception of the Galileo bus from the west side and a few others like the Clarendon buses.

    For example, I've known several Mission/Bernal families who used the bus system to send their kids to Yick Wo. There's a Mission bus to Alvarado, and there used to be a bus from Edison Charter to SF Community, and one from Fairmount to Claire Lilienthal. Lot of middle school families in the Mission send their kids to Hoover and Aptos on the bus (can you tell I live in the Mission).

    You can use the bus system some days but not others, or one way but not the other. Agreed it is not easy for working parents to meet the bus at 3pm or whenever, unless you have a grandparent or nanny. It's also buyer beware--I worry every year that they are going to cut them, because they make my life so so much easier, but I am prepared to rearrange my life if they do. [But please don't, SFUSD!]. While I do have a car and some flexibility, many families don't, and I do think the buses have made some higher-performing schools accessible to many low-income families. Alvarado, Hoover, etc.

    The bus schedules aren't that hard to read. Don't try to figure them all out, but if there's a school across town that catches your eye, check out the schedule.

    Best of luck.

  6. I don't suppose there's anyone here working for teh Google who could do a neat plot of the school bus routes like they do for the MUNI routes?

  7. There's a summary of the bus routes at

    But it's not really complete: for instance a bus to Alice Fong Yu actually stops in Bernal Heights (at Junipero Serra in Holly Park), but you wouldn't figure that out from the document linked above.