Happy to pay for busing kids to school

East Maple Ridge and Silver Valley are not served well by TransLink buses

Editor, The News:

Re: Cancelling buses is shortsighted (Letters, May 13).

I am one of the parents who attended the school board public meeting held to discuss the ‘proposed’ cancellation of school buses in 2016.

It was clear from the start the decision had been made, budget cuts had to happen and busing was the obvious target.

Nevertheless, parents were allowed to voice their concerns.

I know some people think it’s the responsibility of parents to ensure their children get to school and shouldn’t rely on school buses. However, I believe that Maple Ridge is somewhat unique in ways that make  getting to school a responsibility that should be shared.

Consider:

• East Maple Ridge and the Silver Valley are not served well by TransLink – some areas are not served at all and the few that are have limited buses that do not operate during start and end times of schools, such as Webster’s Corners.

• Many areas in rural east Maple Ridge do not have sidewalks or street lights, and wildlife such as bears and cougars are often seen.  For some parents, that takes away the option of having their children walk long distances to school.

• Children living in the catchment area of schools that have no room, such as Albion elementary, do not have the option of walking to their local school and are forced to attend other schools that are not within walking distance and are not served by TransLink. In many of these situations, homes were built and bought with the promise that a school would soon be built, but the reality is that the nearby school has no room.

• Local government allows developers to build in areas where the local catchment area schools are located – the great answer to this was to widen the catchment areas so, guess what? The catchment school that is taking students is not local anymore and is not within walking distance.

I don’t have all the answers to this problem, but I would like to think the following options could at least be considered.

For every house a developer builds in an area where schools are full, have the developer donate a specific amount to the school board to assist with transportation issues.

Local government should stop allowing development in areas where schools are full until a new school is built or until school busing services are restored.

The provincial government should recognize all school districts are not the same and provide help with transportation funding in rural areas.

TransLink should also look at the issues faced by school-age children and consider adding buses during school start and end times.

Parents who have no option but to use the school bus services should continue to pay a fee each year – this year I paid $400 for my children to ride the bus and was happy to do so.

Anita Brierley

Maple Ridge

 

Small fee

Editor, The News:

Re: Cancelling buses is shortsighted (Letters, May 13).

It is not necessary for any school district to provide bus service to students. The cost is approximately $1,091 a year per student to transport them.

The small fee that was charged this year is nothing compared to the actual cost.

To say that it is shortsighted and irresponsible, I have to disagree.  The board has tough decisions to make every year with what the government dictates to them.  This year was busing. Last year it was staff. What does next year bring?

We need to take a stand against the province as it continues to underfund public education.

Kim Plumridge

Maple Ridge

 

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