Transportation changes

As people likely know, the transportation review has resulted in some route changes for 2018-19.  The transportation department has communicated with affected families (through a letter, email and phone call) in order to enable planning for the 2018-19 school year.

The school district’s goal is to provide quality, predictable and reliable access to transportation to eligible riders, within the resources available, and to make bus routes efficient and sustainable.

We know that the changes will result in some frustration and inconvenience for some families and we regret the inconvenience, but the new schedule should ensure that there are seats available for all eligible riders every day.

Why change what was working?
The changes have been made to provide shorter ride times, later pick up times in the morning, and earlier pick up times after school for eligible students. In the past, some eligible bus students have spent up to 90 minutes extra per day on bus runs that had been extended to accommodate courtesy riders (which are students within the 3.5 km limit or students, students in a program of choice, or students who are not attending a catchment area school).

What is an eligible or non-eligible rider?
To be eligible for consideration for regular bus transportation to and from school, the student must:
– Attend their catchment area school;
– Live more than 3.5 km from his/her catchment area school;
– Must be registered in SD83 schools or programs.

Transportation of a non-eligible student is the responsibility of the parent.  Non-eligible students may be provided transportation as courtesy riders, providing the following conditions exist:
– There is an existing bus route; and
– The bus has available space; and
– No additional stops are required.

Whose job is it anyways?
It is the parents’ responsibility to determine how their children will safely travel to and from school or to and from the bus pick up and drop off locations; bus transportation is one option.  In accordance with the School Act, bus transportation for students to use in going to and from school is provided at the discretion of the Board.  It is recognized that bus transportation routes will not be able to suit the requests of all parents.

Why can’t my child catch the bus to a program of choice?
Transportation is not available to students who chose to attend outside their catchment area school or a program of choice. For example, it would not be financially feasible to transport a student or two from North Shuswap or Falkland to A.L. Fortune for the hockey program,  to Bastion for the French Immersion program or to South Canoe for the outdoor learning program. If a family choses another catchment area school or program of choice, they know when they register that transportation is not provided.

Why change only to save $6,400?
The changes aren’t coming from a desire to save operating costs. The $6,400 noted in the review  was provided in keeping with the district’s commitment to full transparency.  The decision to alter our current practice was based fully on capacity,  ride time and the number of buses the district has available, which cost just over $130,000 each and are funded through Ministry capital funding. After much review and research of the district’s bus routes and resources, it was determined there are no other solutions that are reasonable and sustainable. The district currently spends approximately $3 million a year on transportation services.

How many students are affected and where is the money going?
Notifications about the courtesy rider changes went out to 126 families. Some families had more than one student affected. The estimated cost of all courtesy route extensions was $31,150. This is a total for route extensions from Ranchero and Bastion areas to Shuswap Middle School, to after school care, and downtown to SMS. Please note that these resources are still being used for transportation costs, they have been redirected to improve and provide sustainable service to eligible riders for the 2018-19 school year.

Will courtesy riders be allowed if there is room?
The transportation staff will monitor the situation in the early fall to see if further adjustments can be made to increase access while maintaining efficiency. Once eligible ridership has been determined, if there is room on the bus and if no additional stops are needed, courtesy riders will be allowed.

Does the school district provide busing to daycare?
Unfortunately, the school district does not have the resources to provide busing to local daycares. Please contact your daycare provider to see if they offer this service.

Are there any other options?
City transit may be an option for some older students, particularly Shuswap Middle School students. Check out the Transit Route here. For example, the bus can be caught at Fletcher Park just shortly after 8 a.m. and students will arrive at SMS a few minutes later. The school district has met with the City of Salmon Arm to see if there are other areas where they can work together to support students, such as perhaps adjusting transit routes or solutions for traffic congestion.

I’m new to the area what do I need to do to find out about busing?
If you are new to the area and if your child will be taking the bus please call the transportation department to register at (250) 832-9415) as soon as possible.

Where is the transportation review?
For further detail, please read the  Transportation Report on the website by clicking here

More details about our transportation service:
About Transportation
Bus Routes (available August 20, 2018)
Bus Riders Code of Conduct
Driver Training

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