Special needs children are eligible for free transportation services to participate in various activities, ranging from school transportation to community activities.

Transportation to Community Activities

People with developmental disabilities are encouraged to participate fully and meaningfully in their communities, according to the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). In order to promote each individual’s access to community habilitation services and resources that are desired by the individual, organizations are obligated to guarantee that safeguards and supervision are given in line with the individual’s requirements and informed choices. This includes safe transportation for individuals to various organizations.

There are certain procedures put into place to ensure the safe transportation for all individuals.


In order to ensure that each individual is protected and supported in line with his or her service plan, he or she must be supervised while inside the vehicle or means of transportation. There should be no reason for an individual to be left alone in a vehicle or mode of transportation unless there is paperwork, as mentioned in the person’s specific safeguards and supports, that specifically outlines the conditions under which the individual may be left unattended.

There must be a mechanism in place for inspecting vehicles or modes of transportation after a journey has been completed to ensure that no one has remained inside the vehicle or mode of transportation.

Paid on-duty staff who accompany persons during transportation, including those employed by contracted transportation vendors, must be aware of each individual’s need for help, supervision, and safety precautions, and they must be trained in these requirements. This may involve the necessity for wheelchair safety measures as well as the usage of specialized equipment, such as wheelchair-securing devices, as appropriate.

Seatbelts are required for all paid on-duty employees and contracted drivers, as well as front-seat passengers and minors under the age of sixteen, according to New York State law. All passengers should be encouraged to use seatbelts by staff members who accompany them on their journey.

Drivers must comply with all State licensing and traffic laws.

Individuals who reside in OPWDD-operated and certified residential facilities and who require transportation to routine and nonroutine community activities (e.g., day programs, work locations, and routine social, leisure, and recreational activities) must be provided with the individualized supports and supervision they require to arrive safely at their intended destinations and return safely to their residences, according to state law.

Each individual identified as requiring oversight and/or assistance to access their routine activities in accordance with their individualized plan, as well as the type, schedule, and transportation provider for each individual, is documented and made available to facility staff. Additionally, transportation safety training for all employees involved in transportation, including supervisors and replacement workers, to ensure that they are familiar with general, facility-specific, and individual-specific transportation safety practices.

The majority of day programs are financed to give clients with to and from transportation as well as transportation to community sites when services are being provided, and they are also mandated to offer individuals with safeguards and supports that are appropriate for their requirements. In addition, similar obligations would apply when paid on-duty employees accompany clients who are utilizing public transportation, paratransit, or medical transportation services, among other situations.

  • Consistent attendance. In addition, procedures must contain a method of verifying attendance at the start of service provision and when a new service site is established over the course of the service providing process. When individuals arrive at each service site, a member of the staff must be assigned the job of taking their attendance.
  • Absences from work. A method for determining the whereabouts of each individual who is unexpectedly missing from the program site or service location must be included in the procedures.

Transportation to Schools

In general, students with disabilities receive the same transportation services as their peers without disabilities. However, it is the responsibility of the CSE or CPSE to determine whether the student’s disability prevents the student from using the same transportation provided to nondisabled students, or from arriving at school in the same manner as nondisabled students. As part of making recommendations for special transportation for students with disabilities, the CSE/CPSE should take into account and document the requirements of the student in relation to his or her impairment.

These can include:

Mobility – for example, a nonambulatory wheelchair user.

Behavior – for example, being scared in noisy surroundings; self-abusive; fleeing; crying regularly; etc.

Communication difficulties, such as hearing impairment, nonverbal communication, poor understanding of inquiries and directions, and non-English speaking.

Physical – for example, requires assistive equipment to maintain a sitting position; requires assistance walking and going up and down stairs; and so on.

Health requirements – for example, suffers seizures; weariness – may fall asleep on the bus; requires oxygen equipment; requires the use of an inhaler; and so on.

If necessary, the IEP must contain specific transportation suggestions that accommodate each of the student’s individual transportation requirements. For example, it is not suitable for the IEP to merely state, “Special transportation required,” without specifying what type of special transportation is required. It is not required to include specific transportation goals in a student’s IEP unless education will be offered to enable the student to develop his or her independence while traveling, as well as to improve his or her conduct and socializing while traveling, as described above.

Transportation workers who are responsible for providing a program, service, accommodation, modification, or support to a student must be made aware of their unique obligations in order to fulfill the student’s IEP in a timely fashion. Moreover, in addition to following recommendations from the IEP, transportation employees should be aware of any particular information about the student that might have an influence on his or her health and safety while on the road, such as, but not limited to, the following information:

  • the reasons for why a student requires specialized transportation;
  • demands in terms of health that might necessitate continuing or emergency intervention
  • Behavior problems or worries among students that might pose a threat to their health or safety; and specific training for bus drivers and/or attendants.