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Chartering Student Transportation Services

Chartering Student Transportation Services

Procedures and Responsibilities

The guidelines outlined in the following pages are designed to maximize safety when contracting a Private Motor Carrier (Charter Bus) to provide transportation services for the students of the San Mateo Union High School District. 

If you have any questions, please contact:

Kelly Hubbard
Executive Transportation Officer

Delvonne Dozier
Transportation Coordinator

Laws and Regulations

California Vehicle Code 546
A “school pupil activity bus” is any motor vehicle, other than a school bus, operated by a common carrier, or by and under the exclusive jurisdiction of a publicly owned or operated transit system, or by a passenger charter-party carrier, used under a contractual agreement between a school and carrier to transport school pupils at or below the 12th-grade level to or from a public or private school activity, or used to transport pupils to or from residential schools, when the pupils are received and discharged at off-highway locations where a parent or adult designated by the parent is present to accept the pupil or place the pupil on the bus. 

As used in this section, common carrier, publicly owned or operated transit system, and passenger charter-party carrier refer to carriers in business for the principal purpose of transporting members of the public on a commercial basis. Here are a few examples:  

  • Charter bus  
  • Charter coach bus  
  • Charter van  
  • Charter limousine 

The driver of a school pupil activity bus shall be subject to the regulations adopted by the California Highway Patrol governing school bus drivers, except that the regulations shall not require drivers to duplicate training or schooling that they have otherwise received which is equivalent to that required pursuant to the regulations, and the regulations shall not require drivers to take training in first aid. However, a valid certificate to drive a school pupil activity bus shall not entitle the bearer to drive a schoolbus.

Senate Bill No. 1072, Article 18. 

Child Safety Alert System

California Vehicle Code 28160

  1. On or before January 1, 2018, the department shall adopt regulations governing the specifications, installation, and use of child safety alert systems.
  2. (1) On or before the beginning of the 2018–19 school year, each school bus, school pupil activity bus, except as provided in paragraph (2), youth bus, and child care motor vehicle shall be equipped with an operational child safety alert system. 

(2) A school pupil activity bus is not required to be equipped with an operational child safety alert system if all of the following apply: 

  1. The school pupil activity bus is not used exclusively to transport pupils.
  2.  When the school pupil activity bus is used to transport pupils, the pupils are accompanied by at least one adult chaperone selected by a school official. If an adult chaperone is not a school employee, the chaperone shall meet the requirements for a school volunteer established by the policies of the school district, county office of education, charter school, or private school.
  3. One adult chaperone has a list of every pupil and adult chaperone, including a school employee, who is on the school pupil activity bus at the time of departure.
  4. The driver has reviewed all safety and emergency procedures before the initial departure and the driver and adult chaperone have signed a form with the time and date acknowledging that the safety plan and procedures were reviewed. 
  5. Immediately before departure from any location, the adult chaperone shall account for each pupil on the list of pupils, verify the number of pupils to the driver, and sign a form indicating that all pupils are present or accounted for. 
  6. After pupils have exited a school pupil activity bus, and before driving away, the driver shall check all areas of the bus, including, but not limited to, overhead compartments and bathrooms, to ensure that the bus is vacant.
  7. The driver shall sign a form with the time and date verifying that all required procedures have been followed.
  8. The information required to be recorded pursuant to subparagraphs (D), (E), and (G) may be recorded on a single form. These forms shall be retained by the school district, county office of education, charter school, or private school for a minimum of two years.

    c. A “child safety alert system” is a device located at the interior rear of a vehicle that requires the driver to either manually contact or scan the device before exiting the vehicle, thereby prompting the driver to inspect the entirety of the interior of the vehicle before exiting.

    d. For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
      1. “Child care motor vehicle” means a vehicle designed, used, or maintained for more than eight persons, including the driver, that is used by a child care provider to transport children.
      2. “Child care provider” has the same meaning as provided for “day care center” in Section 1596.76 of the Health and Safety Code.

Guidelines and Responsibilities for Chartering a Common Carrier

Contracting a Common Carrier or Private Motor Carrier (Charter Bus)

  • Obtain permission from the School Site Administrator to approve the use of a Common Carrier (School Pupil Activity Bus/S.P.A.B.).  
  • Before entering into an agreement with a Common Carrier, ensure the Carrier meets the following requirements to transport students at or below the twelve-grade level. This can be done by asking the Common Carrier representative, the following questions: 
    • Does the Common Carrier have Certified, School Pupil Activity Bus (SPAB) drivers? 
    • Does the Common Carrier have Certified, School Pupil Activity Buses (SPAB)? 
    • Does the Common Carrier have a valid Certificate of Insurance? 
  • To be included in the agreement between the San Mateo Union High School District and the Charter Party Carrier, the Charter Party Carrier must agree to provide the District with:
    • Certified, School Pupil Activity Bus Driver/Drivers
    • Certified, School Pupil Activity Buses Driver/Drivers
    • Valid Certificate of Insurance prior to the signing of the agreement

If the Charter-Party Carrier does not or cannot provide SPAB Certified Driver(s) and SPAB Certified Buses, under California Vehicle Code Section 546, you may not use said Common Carrier. 

Responsibilities of the School Official or Chaperone

Prior to loading a bus, it is the responsibility of the teacher or chaperone to:  

  • Inspect the general condition of the bus for any safety concerns and cleanliness.  
  • Inspect the vehicle’s registration for validity.  
  • Inspect the Inspection Approval Certificate, CHP 292 Form for validity.

Inspect the driver’s qualifications and reports

  • California Commercial Driver’s License Class A or B with a “P” and “S” Endorsement (END) and Restrictions (RSTR) that may restrict the driver from the vehicle driven to the school site.  
  • California Special Driver Certificate for validity and to ensure the applicant is certified to drive a School Bus or a School Pupil Activity Bus (SPAB).  
  • Driver Log Book and Vehicle Inspection Report.
Motor Carriers

Motor Carriers


American Stage Tours
Fax: 925-685-5421

Got U There Tours

Royal Coach Tours
San Jose
Fax: 408-286-1410

United Coach Tours
South San Francisco
650-873-3138 x104

Corinthian Transportation
Fax: 408-370-2198

Lux Bus America
San Jose

San Jose Charter
San Jose

US Coachways
800-359-5991 x289

Delta Charter Bus

Peninsula Tour
San Francisco

Sierra Pacific Tours
Fax: 925-825-6936

White Castle Tours

Destination System
San Francisco

Quality Assurance Travel
Santa Clara

Storer Coachways
San Francisco