New Hanover County Schools
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 Transportation Department

History of Pupil Transportation

North Carolina has been transporting schoolchildren to and from school for more than 100 years. Wagons pulled by horses or mules were used for pupil transportation in some counties before there were government sponsored motorized buses, and churches often provided transportation.  In 1911 the General Assembly authorized the establishment of public transportation of children, making North Carolina the 36th to take such action.

The first school bus that was purchased in North Carolina was purchased in 1917 by Pamlico County.  Local school districts were primarily responsible for school bus transportation at that time. Later, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, funding was appropriated and responsibility for managing a system of transportation for all North Carolina public school students was assumed by the state.

Originally all school bus drivers were adults, but as early as 1933 students were hired as drivers. There was ongoing controversy for several decades about the use of student drivers and in the late 1980’s the U.S. Department of Labor declared that no one under the age of 18 could legally drive a school bus. Today only adults drive school buses in North Carolina .

The school bus driver is the most important factor in achieving the safe, efficient and economical operation of the school bus. Without the school bus driver the mission of public school transportation could never be accomplished.