The First Ride program (also known as "orientation ride", "First Time Rider", "The Journey begins", etc) is an education and awareness program designed to familiarize young children and their parents with school buses and school bus safety.

Although school bus travel is extremely safe, informing children about safety rules, and parents about safety procedures, will help to promote school bus safety.  It also allows parents and children to ask questions about school bus safety and related issues.

The program is intended as a fun learning experience.  While open to all children, the program is designed for young children who use school buses to and from school on a regular basis.  The information and presentation format lends itself to all children up to the age of eight.  The program is approximately 45 minutes in length and usually consists of a safety video, a review of school vehicle safety procedures and a ride on a school bus.  It can be adapted for use in a number of different ways, depending on who is organizing the event, the level of participation, timing and resources available.  It can be scheduled just prior to the beginning of the school year.

First Ride programs has been successful in Windsor and Essex County for a number of years.

Who is it for?

 The First Ride program is targeted at young children who will be entering the school system in September.  It is primarily intended for those children who will be using school buses to go to and from school on a regular basis.  It also provides information to parents on school bus safety procedures.

How does it work?

The program is sponsored by the Windsor/Essex County School Bus Safety Association and the local school boards. The program is approximately 18 minutes in length and usually includes:

  • a safety video
  • a ride on a school bus
  • a review of school bus safety procedures
  • presentations

Information on the program is provided by local schools to prospective parents at kindergarten registration or orientation.  The event takes place in a school parking lot or other area away from traffic, with adjacent facilities for watching the video and participating in the activities.

Children watch a video. Presentations can also be scheduled at this time.  Afterwards, children proceed to the bus.  The rules learned in the video are reviewed, and then the children board the bus.

Children are driven to a designated area (which may be the same or a different school).  Children then get off the bus (bus rules are reviewed again).  Rules for loading and walking in front of the bus are reviewed. Children receive a certificate for completing the program.  Parents may also receive additional information on school board transportation policies and safety procedures, such as ensuring that children are dropped off and picked up on time and that young children are supervised while waiting at the bus stop.

When does it happen?

The program is usually scheduled for a time in late August or early in September in order to capture the child population that will be beginning school in September.  It can be scheduled for any time that is convenient for local schools and for those delivering the program.

Click here to access the JK First Ride Registration link.

Where is it?

The program itself takes place on school property or some other secure location with associated facilities nearby.


School bus transportation is extremely safe.  To maintain this safety record, children and their parents must be familiar with school bus safety rules such as how to get on and off the bus safely and how to behave on the bus.  The First Ride program is an opportunity for school boards and school bus operators to introduce school bus safety rules to children, and for parents to become familiar with school bus procedures.

It also allows parents and children to ask questions about school bus safety and related issues.

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