The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) is responsible for the management and administration of all home to school transportation on behalf of the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) and the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB).
In order to secure a seat for your child from the first day of school, it is important that you ensure an accurate home or daycare address is in the school’s information system prior to July. Routes will be run with all stops as planned from the first day of school, regardless of intermittent KG start up schedule.
Eligibility for yellow school bus transportation
The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) shall provide transportation for students who reside, or in the case of students in elementary grades (KG to Grade 8) whose caregiver resides, within the designated attendance and/or program boundary of the school they are attending and meet the minimum transportation eligibility distances as follows:
- Junior and/or Senior Kindergarten 0.8 km or more
- Grades 1 to 8 1.6 km or more
The caregiver address shall supersede the home address within the designated attendance boundary of the school attended for distance measurement purposes. The pickup and drop off addresses must be consistent five (5) days a week.
Requests for bus stop changes
Changes to transportation services must be made directly to OSTA, who will prioritize requests based on safety concerns, urgency, and volume of requests. Visit OSTA’s website to:
- request a bus stop change
- report a walking hazard
- report a service issue (such as delays)
- discuss eligibility and alternate services
Resources for students in the walk zone
We encourage students and their parents who are within the walk zone to use human-powered transportation. This leads to a healthier lifestyle, readiness to learn, and reduces traffic congestion around the school. Preferred walk routes to every school are available at:
http://www.ottawaschoolbus.ca/resources/walking-routes. Addresses inside the green line are designated walkers. Addresses outside the green line are assigned motorized transportation. If the address is in a shaded area inside the walk zone, the address is assigned to motorized transportation based on a walking hazard.
Meeting kindergarten students at their stop
To ensure the safety of transported Kindergarten students, school bus drivers shall not drop off these students unless the parent/guardian or a responsible individual identified by the parent/guardian is present at the stop location to accompany the student home. If there is no one at the stop to receive your Kindergarten student, s/he may be transported back to the school to be picked up by the parent/guardian or may be dropped off at the local police station. Failure to receive your KG child at the stop may result in termination of transportation services.
OSTA will be providing bright yellow plastic tags for each KG student. Schools will attach these tags to any KG student’s backpack (preferably on the lower left side) that is assigned to motorized transportation services. These bands will assist the driver in making sure a responsible person is at the stop to collect the student at their drop off point, per policy.
Variable transportation for students with two homes
Students who are in a joint custody arrangement and require transportation to two homes may apply for transportation to an alternate home/daycare location based on the parties’ access schedule. All eligibility rules apply to the second address. Deadline for September 2019 seating is June 1, 2019. Click here for more information.
Applying for an empty seat on a bus
Courtesy Seating (Empty Seats) for Students in Walk Zones Students, who do not meet the distance eligibility requirement for motorized transportation, may apply for an empty seat on the school bus. The “Application for Access to Empty Seats on School Bus Vehicles” form is available on the OSTA website at http://www.ottawaschoolbus.ca/policies-procedures/empty-seat-seat-availability-provision.
All applications are processed and managed by OSTA. Deadline for Empty Seat applications for consideration in October is September 23, 2019. OSTA will begin reviewing and processing applications after October 1. This ensures accurate rider numbers and how many empty seats may be assigned to other students. Please do not place your child on a bus until the seat assignment has been confirmed through the Bus Planner Parent Portal. We have also instructed schools not to put unassigned students on buses for the ride home. To do so could compromise your child’s safety, as their name would not show up on any bus route lists.
Transportation for students with special needs
Students with physical or mental disabilities may be eligible for transportation as approved by the OCSB’s Student Services Department. Proper documentation is necessary to initiate special transportation, including any subsequent address or time changes. A Request for Special Transportation form must be completed by a school official and forwarded to Student Services for consideration and approval. Once approved, the form is received by OSTA where transportation will be arranged, and the designated taxi / van operator will contact parents directly with the arrangements and effective date.
OSTA school bus safety
Bus Stop Finder and the Bus Planner Parent Portal
Visit OSTA’s website to see if your address is eligible for transportation services, to view yellow school bus and OC Transpo bus route schedules, and more!
Parents may access transportation information for their child as of mid-August using the Parent Portal on www.ottawaschoolbus.ca, or by clicking Bus Stop Finder. Eligibility will be identified as “walker” or will provide information about yellow bus or van service.
Bus cancellations due to inclement weather
Transportation cancellations due to bad weather or poor road conditions are posted on OSTA’s website by 6:15 am. When transportation is cancelled due to bad weather or poor road conditions, transportation is cancelled for all schools. There are several ways in which you can stay on top of bus cancellations.
Subscribe to OSTA’s mailing list to receive email notifications of transportation cancellations right to your handheld device or personal computer.
Watch OSTA’s website after 6:15 am to see if a cancellation has been posted to their Transportation Monitor, or if there will be significant delays in service.
Listen to the radio after 6:15 am for announcements which are repeated at least twice per hour. Stations such as 580 CFRA FM, Hot 89.9 FM and 1310 on your AM dial.
School bus safety video
Follow Buzzy the Bee as he flies you through the ins and outs of riding the school bus for the first time. This first-time rider training video teaches children and their families about danger zones, what not to touch, and how to wait, ride, and disembark from a school bus safely. It also shares tips on how to sit properly and ask for help.