Pupil Transportation

Terrorism Preparedness Guidelines

The following is a check- list by which you can evaluate your district’s, community’s or company’s Emergency Management Plan and your daily operation procedures.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  It is intended to raise the level of awareness among transportation professionals of the real threat that exists for school buses to be targets of terrorism. 

Perhaps a good place to start is to establish a working definition of terrorism.  We have defined terrorism as:  premeditated threats or acts of violence committed by politically motivated persons whose intent is to intimidate or cause serious physical harm to a specific group of people.

Most Emergency Management Plans include school buses merely as a means of shelter and a method of transportation away from a disaster.  We are urging you to seriously consider your big yellow buses as an actual target of terrorism and to take steps to avert any such incidents.

Buses in storage or the bus garage/facility:

  • Key in on Access
  • Lighting
  • Alarms
  • Cameras
  • Exit Diagrams

Buses in the storage area or bus yard:

  • Key in on Fences
  • Alarms
  • Cameras
  • Patrol /guards
  • Lighting
  • Location of buses - where parked
  • Evacuation from the bus yard with alternate routes
  • Driver observations of the unusual

Buses in transit:  Taken from SCHOOL BUS EMERGENCY INCIDENT GUIDELINES prepared by a subcommittee of the NYS Counter Terrorism Zone 4 and used with their permission.

Observations by drivers:  

  • The school bus driver is the first line of defense in dealing with security issues and recognizing the potential of a threat.


  • Exterior
    • Brake checks
    • Tire checks
    • Steering
    • Outside compartments (for unknown objects)
  • Interior (for unknown objects or tampering)  
    • Floor
    • Seats
    • Under seats
    • Interior compartments

At The Bus Stop: 

  • Strange vehicle at bus stop, try to record license plate number and the description of the vehicle.
  • Individuals never seen before in close proximity to bus stop. Individuals never seen before at the    bus stop, talking to children. Notify base immediately.
  • Do not let any adult on your bus (including parents), close your door and notify base. If you are forced into a conversation, have it at the drivers’ window.
  • Parents should not prolong the bus stop with conversations to the driver (This is an easy target to identify).
  • Do not let a new student on your bus without a bus pass.
  • Do not deviate from your designated route.
  • Do not make unauthorized stops.

While Driving:  

  • Be on the alert for anything unusual (i.e. movement of the vehicle, person’s acting suspicious).
  • Do not open the door or get out of the bus if road is blocked for no reason (i.e. stalled car, debris without a storm) Notify base. In the event of a crash, be watchful for unusual behavior.   (Could be a staged incident).
  • Be aware of conversations of students (i.e. weapons on the bus, unusual activity in school, fear of student entering or exiting the bus). Notify base. Drivers should make students, of all grade levels, aware that they care about their safety. (Students will be more comfortable when an emergency arises, they will talk about what they see that makes them threatened, and they will listen to the driver in an emergency.)
  • Student reports of items that may be suspicious (i.e. package, bag) Notify base, find a safe location to pull over, and secure the vehicle. Evacuate your vehicle immediately. Close the doors of the vehicle to prevent re-entry. Have your passengers move 1000 feet from the bus, preferably upwind. Do not attempt to re-enter the vehicle. After immediate notification to base, do not use your radio or cell phone from this point on.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings at all times.

While at school:  

  •  Suspicious vehicle(s) or person(s) outside school or on school property. Do not let students off. Notify base and wait for instructions.
  • Do not let teacher or faculty on bus without proper identification.
  • Do not take an order from school personnel without knowing that person.
  • Do not let students off the bus if you feel that there is something wrong (i.e. no teachers coming out to receive students, police personnel present but not in sight). There may be unusual activity inside the school that you are unaware of. Notify base immediately.

Post-Trip-after each trip and at the end of the day  

  • Children left on bus
  • Evidence of damage
  • Sabotage
  • Graffiti

At The Scene of Serious Incidents:  

  • Rescue and care for the children.
  • Do not disturb the evidence.

General Recommendations:

  • Black lettering on roof of the bus, Minimum 24” –Maximum 36” each letter. Should be identified by company name (i.e. H.T. 323, C.R. 260).
  • An outside signaling device could be installed on the bus (i.e. a light on the grill) recognizable to other school bus drivers and authorities. This would have to be approved by DOT.
  • Bus-tracking systems at your dispatch locations.
  • Develop a standardized radio transmission code with disguising conversation.
  • Provide bus list with numbers to your local police jurisdiction for computer entry. The above list should be updated quarterly by the carrier.
  • Better communications between emergency services and school/transportation personnel.
  • Driver screening (it is even more important that references given by the applicant be checked out and contact be made with former employers).


  • Your local BOCES
  • County Counter Terrorism Task Force
  • Federal Transit Administration
  • NSTA who work directly with Office of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration
  • TSA
  • NYS Office of Public Security 1-866-safenys
Last Updated: June 11, 2009