School Bus Safety – A Message for Everyone

Did you know that school bus safety is EVERY bus rider’s responsibility?

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) delivers safe, efficient and effective multi-modal transportation solutions to students of the Ottawa-Carleton District and Ottawa Catholic School Boards.

In Ontario, The Education Act (RSO 1990, Chapter e.2, section 190) states that school boards “may” provide transportation for pupils. Transportation services are considered a privilege, and not a right, for individual students.

Eligibility for motorized transportation is established by OSTA and is generally based on the student’s home meeting a minimum distance requirement from the school, or when the school board establishes the student’s school of attendance based on special programming needs.

Student safety, and continued access to services, often depends upon the joint efforts of parents, school board/consortium staff, and students themselves, to learn about and engage in safe bus riding behaviour.

You can help the bus driver get everyone to and from school safely, simply by following these bus safety rules!

Find out more about student transportation during Covid-19.

A Message for Students

+ - Waiting at the stop and getting on the bus

Little boy standing at bus stop and waiting for his school bus

  • Stand away from the road on the sidewalk, grassy area or nearby driveway until the bus arrives.
  • Stay off snowbanks to avoid sliding underneath the bus.
  • Board the bus in a single file, with-out pushing, and hold the handrail.
  • Be respectful of private property located near the bus stop. Do not run or play on the property.
  • If the stop is located at a driveway or laneway, stand at the end of the laneway to wait. Do not approach parked cars or run on the laneway. Move out of the way if a home-owner is trying to leave their property.
  • Do not sit on the curb. Drivers cannot see you.
  • When the bus arrives, stand back from the curb and line up.
  • Board the bus in a single file, and hold the handrail.
  • If you must cross the road to get on the bus, wait until the bus has stopped; look both ways to make sure all the cars have stopped, too; look at the driver and wait for the signal to cross; stay well in front of the bus so the driver can see you… WALK, don’t run!
  • There is no eating or drinking allowed on the bus.
  • Use a quiet indoor voice—Loud screaming and yelling are distracting for the driver.
+ - Bus Rider Rap


I sit on the seat
With my feet in the gap

My back is on the back
And my backpack’s on my lap

+ - Getting off the bus

 Portrait of a cute little girl getting down from the bus while driver looking at her

  • Stay in your seat until the bus has stopped.
  • Walk to the front of the bus and hold the handrail to get down the stairs.
  • Only get off at your own stop. If you are not sure where your stop is, ask the driver.
  • Once you get off the bus, walk straight to the shoulder of the road or sidewalk. Remember the Danger Zone.
  • If you need to cross the road after you get off, take 10 big steps along the curb to the front of the bus; look both ways to make sure all the cars have stopped; look at the driver and wait for the signal to cross; stay well in front of the bus so the driver can see you… WALK, don’t run!
+ - School Bus Danger Zone

Image showing the danger zones around a school bus.

  • Always walk in front of the bus if you need to cross the road—The driver can’t see you behind the bus.
  • Always wait for the driver to signal you to cross, and look for other cars and bikes before crossing.
  • Never stop to pick something up near the bus, even if you dropped it—Ask the driver or teacher to help you.
  • Stay away from the DANGER ZONE until it’s time to get on or off the bus.
  • Do not walk between parked buses or play around them.
+ - Your Bus Driver

Image of a School bus driver smiling and looking back at his students on the bus.Your bus driver has a very important job. How can you make the driver feel special?

  • Say “good morning” and “thank you.” Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
  • Be kind and respectful to the driver and others on the bus.
  • Follow the safety rules.
  • When the driver says, “Stop, look and listen!” you need to be quiet and follow their instructions.
  • The bus driver is there for you. Let them know if you feel sick, you are hurt, or you need help with something.
+ - More Safety Rules and Tips
  • If you feel hot, ask the driver to open the window and keep your head and arms inside the bus at all times.
  • Don’t throw stuff inside the bus or out the window—You could hurt someone.
+ - See what other students have to say about bus safety!

Safety Poster and Writing Competition Winners

We received close to 500 creative and inspiring submissions from students of all ages during OSTA's first-ever Safety Poster and Writing Competition. Below are some of the winners from the Bus Safety Poster Categories!

No Food on the Bus (Gr. 4)

Vaping and Bullying on the Bus (Gr. 8)

Kindness and Cooperation on the Bus (Gr. 9)

A Message for Parents

+ - School Bus Safety Starts at Home!

close up of a school bus stop sign on the side of a busTo ensure your child understands how to take the bus safely, OSTA recommends that parents/guardians:

  • Review the School Bus Safety Brochure with their child, either online or in hardcopy format, before school starts and on a regular basis
  • Review the Back to School Safety on the Bus Poster with their child online
  • Help their child understand their role in keeping themselves, and the other riders, safe.
  • Practice proper bus riding behaviour at home with their child.
+ - At the Stop
  • Boy crossing the street to get on the busParents are expected to supervise their child at the stop until the bus
  • Prepare to be standing at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the posted bus stop
  • Stand away from the roadway on the sidewalk, grassy area or nearby driveway until the bus arrives.
  • Keep your child off snowbanks to avoid them sliding underneath the bus.
  • If your child must cross the road to load on the bus, wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and the stop-arm is fully extended; ensure there are no other cars driving by; look at the driver and wait for a wave to cross; advise your child to stay well in front of the bus so the driver can see them; and WALK, don’t run!
+ - Kindergarten Drop-Off
  • To ensure the safety of all Kindergarten students transported, parents/guardians shall be required to meet their child at the stop, or to make arrangements at the school to identify the responsible individual that will meet their child at the stop on a daily
  • The driver shall not drop off kindergarten students without the identified person to meet
  • Failure to comply with this policy may result in the termination of transportation services.
+ - Student Behavior and Discipline
  • The school bus is considered an extension of the classroom. Therefore, the Principal deals with behaviour issues on the bus.
  • If a student misbehaves on a school bus, the Principal has the authority, under policies established by the School Board, to discipline the child, suspend and/or terminate transportation.
  • Parents, guardians and other unauthorized adults are not allowed to board the bus and are encouraged to address any concerns directly with the Principal or with the Operator.
+ - Delays and Service Cancellations

Image of a traffic lightOSTA maintains a web-based Parent Portal which contains transportation information for each student and lists any run delays, daily.  Parents/guardians can subscribe for email notifications of delays and service cancellations, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or look up delays and cancellations online.

+ - Inclement Weather

From time to time, poor road/visibility conditions due to inclement weather can result in the cancellation of our transportation services.

  • These cancellations apply to the whole day, even if the weather event is predicted to occur only in the morning or in the afternoon.
  • Schools remain open and parents may drop- off and pick up their
  • Service cancellation messages are online on OSTA/OCDSB/OCSB websites and/or distributed electronically by 6:00 A.M.  All media is alerted, including local radio stations.
+ - Know your Child’s School Bus Information
  • Know your child’s school bus route number, and the name and telephone number of the operator for the route.
  • You should be calling the school bus operator in the event your child leaves something on the school bus, or in the event of an emergency.
  • Your child should always be dressed appropriately for the weather. From time to time, school buses may be delayed due to weather or road conditions.
  • Speak to your child about an alternate plan in the event the bus does not arrive, or they miss their school bus.
  • Overly loose or dangling clothing items can pose a risk of choking or unnecessary restraint for children. Drawstrings on jackets, long scarves and other loose clothing items may get caught on the bus or school/ playground equipment.
+ - Transporting Equipment on Buses

In the interest of safety, only certain equipment is allowed on school vehicles, under the following conditions:

  • Musical equipment must be housed in cases and should be kept on the student’s lap whenever possible.
  • Ice skates must be carried in a sports bag, or tied together with the blades covered, and kept on the floor at the student’s feet.
  • Parents are expected to provide transportation for their child when bulky or large items such as projects and sports equipment (i.e. skis) must be taken to and from school.
+ - Resources

School Bus Safety Tips  – Check out our posters, brochures and videos for Kindergarten students all the way up to Junior elementary students. We encourage you to review these rules with your children or students before school starts!

Don't Drive, Let Them Ride Poster

School Bus Safety Poster

Safety Poster and Writing Competition Winners

No Food on the Bus (Gr. 4)

Bus Safety Videos

Spread Kindness, Not Germs

All the School Bus Rules

Kindergarten – School Bus Safety with Buzzy the Bee

Grade 1-3 – School Bus Safety with Buster the Bus

Grade 4-8 – School Bus Safety for Junior Students

+ - Transportation During COVID-19

During these unprecedented times, Consortia across the province are working with their Member School Boards, their local Public Health Unit, their Operators and the Ministry of Education to mitigate health risks associated with COVID-19 on transportation vehicles.  OSTA’s priority is creating an environment where students can feel safe and limit the transmission of the virus to the extent possible.

Find out more about student transportation during Covid-19.

Please call the Operator first, if you have concerns about your child’s transportation

The Operator name and route number for your child’s transportation are found on the Bus Planner Parent Web Portal. Operator phone numbers are found on the Operator Directory Page. The route number is posted in the window of the bus.

All Route and Stop changes MUST be requested from OSTA. Neither the Operator nor the Driver is authorized to make these changes.

School Bus Safety Tips

Check out our new brochures and videos for Kindergarten students all the way up to Junior elementary students.

We encourage parents to review these rules with their children before school starts!

Parents/guardians share a role in reinforcing school bus safety. Please take the time to review school bus safety procedures with your child several times throughout the school year. The safe transportation of our children to and from school concerns all of us.

Ontario Ministry of Transportation: Kids: Staying safe on and around the bus +

Ontario School Bus Association: Our Role in Safety +

Government of Ontario: School Bus Safety: What you should know +

Bus Safety Brochures

Download Bus Safety Brochure- A Message to Parents

Download Bus Safety Brochure- Student Responsibility

Bus Safety Videos

Kindergarten – School Bus Safety with Buzzy the Bee

Grade 1-3 – School Bus Safety with Buster the Bus

Grade 4-8 – School Bus Safety for Junior Students

Always stop for the school bus!

Motorists travelling in both directions must stop when approaching a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. A flashing stop arm will swing out while passengers are boarding or leaving the bus. Once all passengers have boarded, the STOP arm will fold away. Do not start moving until the red lights have stopped flashing and the bus begins to move. Read more +

Colouring Book

Download OSTA’s Colouring Book
to practice your Bus Safety Skills!