Thousands of hard-working school bus drivers safely transport more than 760,000 students to and from school each day across the state. To recognize this important profession, Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed this Wednesday (Feb. 27) as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota.

School districts across Minnesota will celebrate the third annual School Bus Driver Appreciation Day by passing out student-made thank you cards and providing food and beverages to bus drivers. The I-35W bridge in Minneapolis will also be lit yellow in recognition of School Bus Driver Appreciation Day on the evening of Feb. 26 and morning of Feb. 27.

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) and Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation (MAPT) teamed up to create School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota to encourage school leaders, parents and students to celebrate the often-overlooked profession.

“From rural country roads to city streets and in all kinds of weather conditions, school bus drivers transport our communities’ most precious cargo – our children – to school each day,” said Garrett Regan, MSBOA president. “School bus driving is an important but often unacknowledged profession, and we are thankful that Governor Walz has declared Feb. 27 as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Minnesota so that we can give bus drivers the recognition they deserve.”

A press conference will be held in Golden Valley Feb. 27. The program will include a plea asking Minnesota drivers to obey school bus stop arms. School bus drivers across Minnesota are reporting increasing occurrences of stop arm violations each year, which puts student safety at serious risk.

“A school bus driver is more than just a chauffeur. They are tasked with getting our children to school and home safely at the end of the day,” said Lieutenant Brian Reu, Minnesota State Patrol. “While they do their best watching out for our children, it takes every one of us to do our part. Remember to always stop when a school bus driver activates the flashing lights and the crossing arm is fully extended.”

Additional reasons to celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Day include the impact school buses have on student safety as well as the environment. 

Thanks to rigorous safety standards for vehicles and drivers as well as student training efforts, students are nearly eight times safer riding to and from school in a school bus than in a different vehicle.

The school bus driving industry is the largest form of mass transit in Minnesota, and it has reduced its environmental impact through the use of alternative fuels and retrofits on diesel engines.

“School bus drivers are among the most highly trained drivers on the road, and they are a crucial part of our education system,” said Derrick Agate, Sr., MAPT president. “We hope that Minnesotans help us recognize school bus drivers in their communities on Feb. 27, and that more people consider this rewarding and in-demand profession.”

The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) represents Minnesota’s privately owned school bus contractors who provide more than 60 percent of the school buses used to transport Minnesota children to and from school and school-related activities. Its members represent an average of more than 45 years of experience in the industry and are responsible for more than 400,000 students being transported 233,000 miles per day.

Founded in 1975, the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) is a non-profit association of school transportation professionals and industry leaders who promote safe and efficient student transportation within the state of Minnesota. MAPT encourages active participation by anyone interested in the safe and efficient transportation of Minnesota students and is a resource for districts throughout the state.

In his proclamation. Gov. Walz stated, “In darkness and daylight, on dirt roads to multi-lane highways, from the warm spring to the frigid winter, Minnesota school bus drivers safely transport more than 760,000 precious students to and from school each day.

“School bus drivers often bookend a student’s school day and can be a positive influence on a student’s educational experience. The school bus driving industry is the largest form of mass transit in Minnesota and has worked hard to reduce its environmental impact through the use of alternative fuels and retrofitting of diesel engines.

“It is estimated that the use of school buses saves the United States more than 2.3 billion gallons of fuel per year.

"Students are nearly eight times safer riding to and from school in a school bus than in cars, thanks to rigorous safety standards for vehicles and drivers, as well as student training efforts. The State of Minnesota appreciates school bus drivers and recognizes the invaluable contributions they make to public education and student safety.”

Learn more online at www.msboa.com.