Uber could be alternative to discontinued bus service, CSDM commissioner suggests

Some parents fighting to save school bus service are outraged after a commissioner from Montreal's largest French school board suggested they use Uber as an alternative to get their kids to school.

Parents outraged with school commissioner's suggestion

Some parents are outraged after a school commissioner suggested Uber as an alternate means fo transport after bus service was cut. (Mark Bugnask/Associated Press)

Some parents fighting to save school bus service are outraged after a commissioner from Montreal's largest French school board suggested they use Uber as an alternative to get their kids to school.

Commissioner Stéphanie Bellenger-Heng made the suggestion at a meeting Wednesday night with parents who are upset about school bus service being cut to three specialized Commission Scolaire de Montreal schools in Montreal.

It struck us that it was a bit crazy.- parent Anne Bhéreur

Anne Bhéreur has two children who attend one of the affected schools, the Atelier alternative school in Ahuntsic.  

She was at the meeting Wednesday.

Bhéreur told CBC News that commissioners at the meeting said that due to a budget crunch there was no way bus service could be restored.  

Bhéreur said Bellenger-Heng started listing alternatives for parents.

"She said parents could have Uber for instance," Bhéreur recalled.

"Yes, it was just a suggestion, but it struck us that it was a bit crazy."

School bus service cut

The CSDM announced earlier this year that it was cutting bus service to three schools: Atelier, an elementary school that helps students with certain learning disabilities, FACE, a specialized art school and Fernand-Seguin school for gifted and talented students.

Starting in September, parents will have to find other ways for their kids to get to school.

A group of parents has been lobbying the CSDM ever since to come up with another solution.  

A small group of parents met with some school commissioners Wednesday night.

'Totally shocked'

Parent Jocelyn Desjardins was also at the meeting. He has two children who attend L'atelier. Desjardins is also a union activist who has been helping Montreal's taxi association in its fight against Uber.

Desjardins said he couldn't believe what he was hearing when Uber came up as a possible alternative for getting kids to school.

"I was totally shocked. For me it is amazing. Not only they are disengaging, but as well they're showing their lack of judgement," Desjardins said.

Misunderstanding

In an email to CBC, Bellenger-Heng said it was all a misunderstanding.  She said she was simply listing off some alternative transport suggestions made by a parent at another meeting in December.

Bellenger-Heng said in fact personally she is anti-Uber.

But she said she's enthusiastic about alternative transport proposals, including shared taxis for students, or parent volunteers accompanying groups of students on public transit.