Pupil Transportation

Use of Alternative Vehicles

Published: 6/13/2023 4:26 PM

The Kentucky Department of Education believes that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students. The use of vans in lieu of school buses has become a significant issue in recent years. Many districts, in an effort to save money, have purchased passenger vans and multi-purpose vehicles to transport students. Although it may seem that there is a cost savings by using a smaller type vehicle, the potential student safety issues have to be weighed against the cost savings.


​​​NHTSA Response Letter - Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act
Survey of State Laws on 12 and​ 15-Passenger Vans Used for School Transportation​

School Bus Definition

Under Federal law, any passenger motor vehicle (including a van) designated for carrying ten (10) or more persons is classified as a bus. A bus is classified as a school bus if it is used or intended to be used in transporting students to and from school or school related activities. 

9-Passenger Vans - Safety Standards

Accordingly, minimum safety standards that all new buses must meet have been established for the transportation of​ ​​​​nine (9) passengers or less, including the driver, and used for approved school activities under 702 KAR 5:130 states, “Section 1. Definition. "Vehicle" means a vehicle owned by a school board or contracted to the board which is significantly used to transport pupils to and from school and which is designed by the manufacturer to carry fewer than ten (10) passengers. Section 2. (1) A vehicle may be used for the transportation of pupils: (a) From areas not accessible by a regular school bus to the nearest road available for the safe transfer of pupils to a regular school bus or vice versa; (b) For emergency transportation of students; (c) For approved school activities; or (d) For qualified special needs pupils. (2) ​A vehicle driver shall be a school district employee or a person contracted by the district."

Kentucky School Bus Specifications

KRS 156.153, School Bus Standards, states “(1) All school buses for which bids are made or bid contracts awarded shall meet the standards and specifications for school buses of the Kentucky Board of Education. The term “school bus” as used in this section, shall mean any motor vehicle which meets the standards and specifications of the Kentucky Board of Education authorized by law and used solely in transporting school children and school employees to and from school under the supervision and control and at the direction of school authorities, and shall further include school bus accessory equipment and supplies and replacement equipment considered to be reasonably adaptable for purchase from price contract agreements. (2) All school buses manufactured prior to 1983 shall be equipped with exterior fender mounted front view and side view mirrors so as to meet the 1984 standards and specifications of the Kentucky Board of Education.”

Elisa Hanley
Office of Finance and Operations
Division of District Support
300 Sower Blvd., 4th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-5279 Ext. 4406
Fax (502) 564-6771 ​​
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