Pilot project puts Whitehorse students on city buses

In Whitehorse, more young people are riding city buses this year as part of a pilot project that encourages high school students to take transit.
CBC's Cheryl Kawaja reports from Whitehorse 2:05

More young people are riding city buses in Whitehorse this year as part of a pilot project that encourages high school students to take transit.

The project allows high school students in certain parts of Whitehorse to choose city buses over school buses.

For Grade 11 student Jesse Berezan, it's a quicker commute to school and he likes that he can use his bus pass anytime. 

"I use it to get to work, to do after-school activities, that sort of thing, get home from band or whatever, go to my friends' houses ... Anything, really. It's really convenient."

Transit manager Cheri Malo is pleased with the program and would like to see it expand.

Since two Whitehorse high schools are in Riverdale, an area that sees a lot of morning traffic congestion, she says fewer school buses might ease the bottleneck.

"We'd love to have students on the bus and look at a more sustainable community, so we're not having a yellow bus right behind one of our city buses going to the exact same destination."

The bus passes are free to students. The Department of Education is picking up the tab at about $4,000 a month. 

"At this point we're still running the regular buses, so this is over and above," said Mark Hill with the Department of Education. "In the long run it is unlikely to create cost savings per se, but if it helps kids stay in school, if it makes a better experience for them, if at the same time it has a positive impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, then it's well worth doing."

Officials with the Department of Education are considering expanding the program but say they'll need continue working with the city to ensure routes are efficient and there's buy-in from students.

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