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A Message from Kulshan Middle School and Bellingham Public Schools Transportation

Dear families,

This fall, Kulshan is piloting a school bus card, or “Hamster Pass,” for students. Students who ride the bus now have a card that they will use to “beep” when they get on and off the bus each day.

Some of our sixth grade students may have used these last year at their elementary school.
This card will soon be attached to students’ backpacks. School personnel and bus drivers will help students learn how to use the card to “beep” on and off the bus each time they ride.
Thanks to the 2016 voter-approved school bus levy, we have enhanced our GPS location services on all school buses. This allows our staff to know the location of our buses. We are now working on the next phase of this project, which is to increase student safety by knowing which students are on board.

Family responsibility

We ask that bus riders keep this card attached to their backpack and follow the school bus driver’s directions upon getting on and off the bus. We encourage families to reinforce at home the importance of keeping this card attached to their backpack. We understand that this is a new process for many staff, students and families. That said, this technology will be very helpful to staff and families as we roll out this program at our schools. So, the more our students use this card, the more we can learn!

Thank you in advance for your help. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the Kulshan office at (360) 676-4886 or see the Bus Pass Q&A below for more information.


Rae Anne Thon, Transportation Director
Meagan Dawson, Kulshan Middle School principal

Bus Pass: Questions and Answers

Why are we doing this?

This new technology will help to increase student safety, as we will more easily and efficiently know where buses are and which students are riding them. The technology and the data it allows us to access helps with safety, accountability and making our routes more efficient.

What does the card look like?

It is the size and shape of an ID card and is attached to your student’s backpack or back with a clear plastic sleeve.

What if my student loses their Hamster Pass? Can they still ride the bus?

Students should ride the bus as normal and see their school office for a replacement card.

Is there personal information about my student on this card (in case it gets lost)?

The pass has their last name and the first three letters of their first name. It does not have any other identifying information.

Why do staff want to know when my student gets on/off the bus?

Knowing exactly who is on which bus will help our school and district personnel communicate in case of emergency or delay. As the program grows, it will also give us valuable data to keep our bus routes efficiently serving our families.

My student is going home with a friend on a bus they usually don’t ride home. Do I still use my Hamster Pass?

Your student should still turn in a note and obtain a “pink slip” from the school office to ride as a courtesy rider. They can “beep” whichever bus they are riding.

More questions? Contact the Kulshan office at (360) 647-4886. In the meantime, thanks for helping your student “beep” on and off the bus!