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FAQs Transportation

FAQs Transportation

Frequently at the scene of a collision, school transportation staff and local law enforcement agencies find themselves in the middle of some confusion about the role of the Washington State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Division (WSP-CVD) in the processing of a collision scene.  The attached guidance is being provided to school districts and WSP-CVD inspectors in an effort to clarify when and how to contact WSP-CVD and the actions that will follow.

It’s recommended that this guidance be incorporated into your local district emergency procedures so that district staff have that resource at the critical time when it’s needed.  Also, it can be helpful to work proactively with local law enforcement agencies on developing collision procedures to prevent adding to an already difficult collision scene.

If you have any questions regarding the guidance provided, contact your regional transportation coordinator.


WSP policy states that a school bus inspection trained officer will inspect a school bus involved in a collision in the following circumstances:

  1. The collision involves injuries to occupants of the school bus and / or other vehicles involved;
  2. There is major structural damage to the school bus (major structural damage is defined as any damage or condition that would render the bus unsafe to transport children);
  3. The investigation officer suspects that defective equipment on the school bus may have contributed to the collision; or
  4. The school district involved requests an officer to inspect the bus, in which case a CVD supervisor must approve the request.


When conditions 1, 2, or 3 above exist, always contact WSP-CVD to request an inspection of the bus.  If there is any doubt about whether or not a bus should be inspected post-collision, contact a WSP-CVD supervisor for guidance.

Upon contacting a WSP-CVD supervisor, they can help determine if an inspection is necessary, as well as where the inspection should be conducted (i.e. on the collision scene, or later back at the transportation facility).  The law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the area where the collision occurs will conduct the on-scene collision investigation.

*Please note that WSP-CVD no longer conducts ALL collision investigations involving school buses.


When calling to request a school bus inspection as a result of a collision, contact the WSP telephone numbers listed below in order.  When contacting the WSP communication center, tell the dispatcher that you need to notify a “CVD Supervisor” that a school bus was involved in a collision.  The dispatcher will either connect you directly or will take your information and have a CVD supervisor (or their designee) return your call as soon as possible.  (As an alternative phone number, you can also dial “911” and ask the 911 operator to connect you with the nearest WSP communications center.)

For WSP in Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan Counties:

  1. Communications Center (Marysville);  360-654-1204

  2. Supervisor CVEO 3 Christie Lakey; 206-949-3661

In addition, you should contact Mark Dennis, Regional Transportation Coordinator as soon as possible:


When you speak to a WSP-CVD supervisor they will ask for some preliminary information about the collision. They will then advise you on whether you should move the bus from the scene and where you should take it (back to the bus garage, or to a nearby safe parking place).  It’s possible the law enforcement officer at the scene may give you different information from the WSP-CVD supervisor or may not allow you enough time to contact WSP-CVD due to the scene situation.  Follow the direction of the officer at the scene.  If needed, move the bus from the scene, but park in a nearby safe location until you can reach WSP-CVD for further guidance.

If you have any questions, contact Mark Dennis, Regional Transporation Coordinator

The first step in the process of disposing of a school bus is to obtain approval from the district school board.  Districts then have several options for disposing of a school bus, however, the law states the procedure to be followed in this process.  Most commonly districts choose to sell, trade-in, retain for parts or scrap a bus.  It is important to note that if a district chooses to dispose of a bus prior to the end of its depreciation lifetime, the final payment to the districts Transportation Vehicle Fund will be reduced accordingly to reflect this action.

RCW 28A.335.180 states in part “when declaring equipment as surplus, school districts shall serve notice in writing in a newspaper of general circulation in the school district and any public or private school requesting such notice.  Districts shall not sell such property for at least 30 days following publication in a newspaper.”  Once thirty days has lapsed the district can implement its plan for disposal.

Disposal Options

A. Selling a bus directly to a private party.

  1. Advertise according to RCW requirements.
  2. After 30 days, if not sold to another district, the district can select a buyer.
  3. Follow WAC 392-143-050 regarding the removal of bus identification (see below).

B. Selling a bus to another school district.

  1. Advertise according to RCW requirements.
  2. Advise the Regional Transportation Coordinator to notify other districts.
  3. Coordinate agreement directly with purchasing district.

C. Selling a bus using Washington State Surplus Operations.

  1. Contact State Surplus to arrange sale on behalf of your district.
  2. Follow WAC 392-143-050 regarding removal of bus identification (see below).

D. Trading-in a bus to a bus vendor.

  1. Advertise according to RCW requirements.
  2. Coordinate agreement directly with bus vendor.
  3. Follow WAC 392-143-050 regarding removal of bus identification (see below).

Notification to OSPI

In accordance with WAC 392-142-270 (see below), once you have disposed of your bus, complete FORM SPI 1020B (located on the OSPI web page) and send electronically to your Regional Transportation Coordinator within 30 days.

WAC 392-143-050 Resold school buses

A school district which sells a school bus to anyone other than another school district shall be responsible for removing the school district’s name and number and all lettering and markings identifying the vehicle as a school bus prior to its delivery to the purchaser. However, if the district sells the school bus to a private party who certifies in writing that the school bus shall be used as a private carrier bus, the district need not remove the four or eight light warning system and stop signal arm.

WAC 392-142-270 Disposition of school buses.

When a district sells or otherwise disposes of a school bus, the school district shall notify the superintendent within thirty days using FORM SPI 1020B.

Please contact Mark Dennis, Regional Transportation Coordinator with any questions.

State Bid.

Purchasing a new bus for your district involves contacting an approved vendor.  Bus vendors submit bids annually, meeting the rigorous safety specifications set forth by OSPI.  A vendor menu is posted on the OSPI website.  The menu indicates the lowest cost bus in each category by placing a bus symbol next to the price.  You don’t have to order the lowest cost bus, but your district will only be reimbursed according to the low bid price.  RCW 28A.160.195 allows school districts to purchase using any accepted quote listed on OSPI’s state quote.  Districts often add options to their bus, however, any additional expenses above the low bid price will not be included in depreciation payments.

Once the bus has been received, processed and ready for use, your district will begin receiving reimbursement funds annually for the “life” of the bus. The “life” of a bus is either 8 or 13 years, depending upon the bus size.  These funds are deposited directly into your district Transportation Vehicle Fund (TVF), an account designated for bus purchasing.

District Bid.

In rare cases, districts may conduct their own competitive bid process in accordance with RCW 28A.335.190.  Contact your Regional Transportation Coordinator (RTC) for assistance with this process.


A. Licensing – Take the following documents to the Department of Licensing, county auditor, or vehicle licensing agent:

  1. Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO) – provided by vendor
  2. Dealer Invoice – provided by vendor
  3. Certificate of Title Application – provided by vendor
  4. Check for licensing fees– provided by district

B. Processing your bus with OSPI – electronically send the following reports to your RTC:

  1. School Bus Acquisition Report – Form SPI 1020A
  2. Initial School Bus Inspection – Form SPI 1029
  3. Dealer Invoice indicating VIN and signed by dealer representative
  4. School District Options Report – Form SPI 1394A
  5. As Delivered Report – Form SPI 1394B

C. Operating Permit – Once approved by the RTC, OSPI will add the bus to your inventory and send the Operating Permit to you electronically. Once you receive the operating permit, you can place the bus in-service and begin transporting students.


Districts have the option to purchase a used school bus from another school district or vendor.  This process involves an agreement between the two districts or vendor.  Contact your RTC if you have questions about the process.


A. Licensing – Contact Department of Licensing to register.

B. Processing your bus with OSPI – electronically send the following reports to your RTC:

  1. School Bus Acquisition Report – Form SPI 1020A
  2. Copy of School Bus Inspection within last year

C. Operating Permit – Once approved by the RTC, OSPI will add the bus to your inventory and send the Operating Permit to you electronically. Once you receive the operating permit, you can place the bus in-service and begin transporting students.

Other things to consider when buying a bus:

A. Vendors may provide different features with their “base bus.”

B. Vendors charge different prices for various bus options and features.

C. Reimbursement funding is calculated and available for review in September of each school year, however funds are not deposited into TVF accounts until August.

D. OSPI provides a forecasting tool to use when planning future bus purchases.

Contact Mark Dennis, Regional Transportation Coordinator for assistance or with any questions.