After school pickup and drop-off options that make the grade

Figuring out transportation can be a challenge for parents whose work hours stretch longer than their children's school day or after-school activities.

Below are a few simple solutions for getting your child to and from school — safely, and on time.

School Bus

The yellow school bus is generally considered to be the safest and most convenient option for getting kids to and from school, but what if you live outside of the bus service area? Yellow bus routes are considered fixed routes. To be eligible for these routes students must live within a short walking distance (usually no more than 500 metres) from the nearest stop or intersection. This can pose a problem for students living in outlying or rural areas. An alternative to the yellow bus service provided by your child’s school is to hire a private charter school bus. A private charter school bus can be rented for around half the rate of a coach bus rental, depending on the duration of the journey. If you have other families in your neighbourhood whose children attend the same school, you may even be able to split the cost of a charter with them. Everyone wins!

Local City Bus

Taking the local city bus can be a great way for older children to get to and from school, sports practice, or after-school activities. Most local transit authorities offer student bus passes that provide unlimited rides within a month, or a discounted fare for a fixed number of bus rides. Before letting your children take the public bus home from school alone, it’s a good idea to ride with them a few times so that they can learn the route and stops. You can also teach your child how to look up route schedule and trip planners on your local transit system’s website.

Carpool

Check with other parents in your neighbourhood to see if they would be interested in organizing a carpool. The obvious benefit to this method of school transportation is that it usually won’t cost you anything out of pocket, as the parents in the carpool typically rotate driving duties. Another benefit of carpooling is flexibility; your carpool could run every weekday or just one day per week, for example. The downside of carpooling is that it hinges on other people’s work schedules and availability, which may not always suit your child’s needs. When organizing a carpool in your neighbourhood or among friends, be sure to set expectations about how often everyone will drive and what kind of notice needs to be given if there is a change of plans — such as delays, changes in pickup and drop-off times, or cancellations. There are many apps available to help parents carpool with other families. These apps organize your group’s schedule in one place and ensure everyone is kept up to date.

After-School Nanny

Hiring an after-school nanny is a great option for parents who work late and are unable to pick up their children at the end of the school day. Depending on your needs, the nanny can simply do pickups and drop-offs or perform additional duties, like preparing after school meals or helping with homework. Private after school care costs around $15 per hour, but you may have difficulty finding a nanny who is willing to work just a few hours per day. A couple of solutions to this problem are to strike up a deal with a neighbour who already has a nanny or to use a nanny sharing service.