This guide was co-published with Chalkbeat Detroit.
Finding reliable, affordable transportation can be a major challenge in Detroit, and that’s especially true for parents trying to get their kids to school. Some students can use yellow school buses or other public transit options, but not all.
Outlier Media and Chalkbeat Detroit put together a guide to help parents identify their options and get additional help. Read a text version of the guide below, or you can view and download a PDF. Please feel free to print it, and share it with others!
Why don’t most Detroit schools provide buses?
The short answer is that they don’t have to. Most students in Michigan don’t have a legal right to transportation that will get them to and from school. Children with certain disabilities or some experiencing homelessness have a right to school transportation. Still, every child in Detroit needs to get to school, and about 20% of them are getting there on a yellow bus this year. What are the options if you don’t live close enough to your child’s school for them to walk or you have safety concerns?
Some children living in Detroit have access to free yellow buses. Students of the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) who want or need to use city buses can get free monthly DDOT passes from each school’s office, paid for by the district. Some families rely on commercial ride-share companies, though riders under 18 typically need to be with an adult rider to use the services.
Transportation options are decided at the district level
Where does your child go to school?
Nearly half of Detroit charter schools offer some form of transportation, though options may be limited. For instance, the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences runs buses from a handful of stops across the city, but stops may not be within walking distance of each student’s home. The Detroit Schools Guide provides a list of charters that offer some transportation, but the guide hasn’t been updated since 2020. Before enrolling, call the school or visit its website to learn more about transportation options.
Detroit Public Schools Community District
K-8 neighborhood school students qualify for yellow bus service if they live farther than 0.75 miles from their school. Find your neighborhood school by using DPSCD’s School Locator entering your address on this district webpage.
If you move into a new neighborhood and the neighborhood school is full, DPSCD provides transportation to the next closest school.
High school students are guaranteed a free city bus pass. They can pick up the passes at their school office. High schools with limited Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) service provide buses or shuttles.
Application school students do not qualify for yellow bus service unless they are guaranteed it through their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law for children who are experiencing homelessness.
Schools of choice (districts outside the city)
Here are transportation policies for the handful of districts outside the city that enroll the largest numbers of Detroit students.
- Oak Park School District offers busing to Detroit students, though students must re-register each year. Parents should fill out this transportation request form or call the bus yard at 248-336-7601.
- River Rouge School District operates bus routes across Detroit — see the latest map of bus stops. For more information or to select a stop, call District Support at 313-203-1497 or email email@example.com.
- Hazel Park, Berkley, Ferndale and Redford Union schools do not offer any transportation to general education students who live outside the district.
Some Great Start Readiness Programs (GSRP), Michigan’s state-funded preschool, have free transportation. However, there are strict rules about parents signing children in and out of preschool. Some schools allow an older sibling attending the school to accompany the preschooler. See a list of preschool programs in Wayne County that offer transportation.
Children with disabilities
If your child’s IEP specifies they need transportation, they are entitled to that transportation no matter what public school they attend. About 2,000 DPSCD students get this curb-to-curb service.
Families experiencing homelessness
If your family is without stable housing and you want your child to attend the school they were going to before you lost housing, they can have access to transportation because of the McKinney-Vento Act. Families that are staying in a shelter, temporarily doubled-up in someone else’s home or otherwise lacking stable housing should call their district. You can call DPSCD at 313-748-6383. High schoolers covered under the McKinney-Vento Act get DDOT bus passes unless DDOT routes would not allow them to get back and forth to school. The district also uses alternate transportation or gas cards for parents or guardians in these cases.
How to find out your child’s transportation options
DPSCD recommends parents and guardians use PowerSchool, the district’s online information system. Confirm your contact information, including your address, is correct in the system, and you should be able to see your child’s scheduled transportation route. Parents can also call their child’s school or the district’s Transportation Call Center at 313-945-8600.
Others to contact about transportation issues
- Contractors for Detroit Public Schools Community District
- Bus service contractors for general education students:
- Bus service contractors for students with disabilities and homeless students:
- Detroit Department of Transportation