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Frequently Asked Questions

Pupil Transportation

Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Can I purchase a 15-passenger van?

1. Can I purchase a 15-passenger van?

On August 10, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Pub. Law 109-59.

  • Federal law prohibits schools and school districts from purchasing or leasing new 15-passenger vans for use in transporting students to and from school and school related activities. The relevant provision is codified at 49 U.S.C. 30112(a)(2).  On August 10, 2005, P.L. 109-59, the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (SAFETEA-LU) was enacted. Section 10309 states in part:
    • a school or school system may not purchase or lease a new 15-passenger van if it will be used significantly by, or on behalf of, the school or school system to transport preprimary, primary, or secondary school students to or from school or an event related to school, unless the 15-passenger van complies with the motor vehicle standards prescribed for school buses and multifunction school activity buses under this title.
  • For purposes of Section 10309, 15-passenger van is defined as: “a vehicle that seats 10 to 14 passengers, not including the driver.” This means that a school district would be prohibited from purchasing a new 12-passenger van for school transportation purposes.  A vehicle with a total of ten designated seating positions or less would not be covered by the prohibitions, regardless of whether the vehicle was built on a 15-passenger van chassis.
  • 49 U.S.C. 30112(a)(1) prohibits dealers from selling non-school bus certified buses to any entities for the purpose of transporting students. That is, a dealer may not sell a new bus that will be used for transporting students to and from school or school related activities if the bus does not meet the FMVSS for school buses. A bus is defined at 49 CFR 571.3 as “a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed for carrying more than 10 persons.”
  • NHTSA strongly recommends that all buses that are used to transport school children be certified as meeting NHTSA’s school bus safety standards. School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in this country and we encourage school districts to carefully consider the possible consequences of transporting students in vehicles that do not comply with the school bus standards, such as the additional safety risks associated with use of a vehicle that is not equipped with a stop arm and other school bus lighting when loading or unloading children along the roadway.

2. Can schools use vans to transport students?

Yes, but the capacity of the van cannot exceed ten passengers, not including the driver.  The total number a van can carry is eleven – ten passengers plus the driver.

Modifying the seating of a used 12 passenger van to decrease the capacity to ten passengers plus the driver is acceptable.  However, if you are ordering a new 12-passenger van, seating must be configured to seat a total of ten including the driver (in compliance with Federal Regulations) and be sure the vehicle has been certified as a “multi-passenger vehicle.”

When considering the purchase of a new van to be used as a pupil transportation vehicle, schools must be certain the chassis is not the same size as a 15-passenger vehicle.  Some manufacturers are selling new vans as 10 or 11 passengers but are actually built on a 15-passenger chassis.  Those vehicles cannot be used to transport students.

Small vehicles such as cars, Chevy Suburbans or Dodge Caravans will continue to be acceptable to transport school students.

3. Is there a maximum time limit a student can ride a school bus?

There are no statutes or rules that address a maximum time limit that a student can ride a school bus.  However, schools may have local policies that address this issue.  Many schools try to limit ride time but this all depends on the geographical size of the school district.

4. What does the “four-mile” rule mean for pupil transportation?

State Statute 79-611 requires public schools to provide transportation or pay reimbursement to parents in lieu of transportation for students who live four miles or more from school.  Actual reimbursement starts from mile three.

5.  Can non-public students ride a public school bus?

State Statute 79-601 states a school board of any public school district that provides transportation for children attending that public school shall also provide transportation without cost for children residing in the district that attend non-profit, non-public schools lying within that same district.  Transportation provided for the non-profit, non-public school only extends from some point on the regular public school route nearest or most easily accessible to their home to and from a point on the public school route.

6. What is the reimbursement rate to parents for the transportation of their children?

The reimbursement rate is based on the federal mileage rate and is normally adjusted each January   Click here to see the current rate.  There are two rates listed – regular resident and option enrollment.

Here are the steps to calculate the daily pupil transportation reimbursement rate:

  1. Determine one-way distance from school
  2. Subtract three miles
  3. Multiply by current rate

7. Can schools use buses to transport adults to a community activity?

Nebraska State Statute 13-1208 addresses the use of school buses other than transporting students for school purposes.



Program Contacts

  • Stephanie DeGroot: (402) 540-0649 or
  • Bryce Wilson: (402) 471-4320 or
Updated December 28, 2023 11:40am