School buses on the chop block

Trustees ask TransLink for more rural routes as school districts consider cutting school bus routes

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District is considering eliminating regular busing and has asked TransLink to help service more rural routes.

However, the regional transportation authority claims it can’t comply unless it gets more money.

The school board send a letter to TransLink asking what level of transit service it could provide to students if the district, looking for $1.7 million in budget cuts, eliminates busing.

School board chair Mike Murray interprets a response from TransLink to mean that it won’t have the resources to help unless the ongoing transportation plebiscite passes.

In its last budget, the board added school bus fees, set at $215 for an individual student. This year it is again looking for cuts, and Murray said eliminating busing is one option being considered. It could save the district $700,000 per year.

Murray noted the vast majority of students either walk to school or get rides from their parents.

Eliminating regular busing would impact 369 registered student riders. When the school bus fees were added last year, 100 riders stopped taking the bus, making the cost per student almost $1,900 per year.

Murray said the district has no legal obligation to provide bus service, but the board will not cut bus service for special needs students – four buses and a taxi serve 30 special needs students, at an annual cost of $250,000.

He said the district has a moral obligation to these students, if nothing else.

TransLink told the board that it is not allowed to provide exclusive school bus service. The Motor Vehicle Act states that school trips can be provided only if is not an exclusive school-specific service.

“Any of our transit services must be a public route for use by all customers, not just students,” said the written response from Daniel Freeman, transit network manager.

Murray acknowledged that TransLink may be little help getting young students to school.

“Obviously, that’s an issue for some people – putting small kids on a city bus,” he said.

Freeman said the transportation agency wants to instill in students a habit of using sustainable transportation modes, and could provide additional service on its existing routes – but there isn’t enough money.

“Our ability to provide additional service currently is limited by funding availability, and so any increase in existing service requires a re-allocation of service,” said Freeman.

Cutting student transportation is one of many unpalatable options the board faces in its budget process this year, said Murray.

“We’re not at the point of making that decision. We want to hear from the public.”

That will happen at a public meeting April 15,, when the board will hear reaction to budget cut proposals. The meeting will be held at Maple Ridge Secondary cafeteria from 6-9 p.m.

The public meeting will be sandwiched between two board meetings dealing with the budget. The document, with proposed cuts, will be presented to the board on Wednesday, and on April 29 the board will approve its final budget balancing measures.

Murray said the response from TransLink has also been forwarded to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows city halls.

“If we’re forced to make the choice of eliminating busing, we hope they will help us to lobby TransLink.”

 

Just Posted

UPDATE/VIDEO: Heavy police presence after body found in Maple Ridge

Body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge

On Cooking: Yes, I eat meat

I recognize the fact that we as people are not all the same.

VIDEO: Firefighters on scene at Mission house blaze

Flames can be seen rising from roof of home on Lightbody Crescent

Sports announced for Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games

18 events will attract almost 3000 young athletes

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants couldn’t find the net: coach

Even with a six-on-three advantage, the Langley-based hockey team couldn’t earn points Sunday.

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

Mountie left with ‘significant’ injuries after driver attempts to flee traffic stop

Richmond RCMP are looking for a dark coloured Mercedes Benz

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Most Read