Ottawa public school board wants to expand student busing

Ottawa's public high schools may start using traditional yellow buses rather than OC Transpo to transport some of its urban high school students.
OCDSB considers extending eligibility for thousands of students in the urban portion of the city. 2:18

Ottawa's public high schools may start using traditional yellow buses rather than OC Transpo to transport some of its urban high school students.

Since the 1990s, high school students with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board in urban areas who couldn't walk to school have had to take public transit, mostly at their families expense.

But now board staff is recommending that the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority extend its bus service to some 5,300 eligible public high school students.

The recommendation comes after two school trustees, John Shea and Katie Holtzhauer, put forth the idea, arguing that the board was losing students to the Catholic board, which has continued to bus students in urban areas.

Change would take effect next September

Extending school bus service would cost about $4.2 million if brought in by September, but board staff say some of those costs could be off set by an increase in funding from the provincial ministry of education if the move helps improve the boards rating for transportation efficiency.

Students CBC News spoke to had differing views on the plan.

Gloucester High School grade 10 student Adrian Lau likes the plan.

"I prefer the yellow school bus, especially in the winter. You have to wait a long time for OC Transpo," said Lau.

Classmate Osmond Doreh on the other hand prefers the flexibility of the OC Transpo bus pass.

"Not everyone gets to school at the same time, some people have spares," said Doreh. "But the thing is I can use a pass anytime of the week, on the weekend, after school... because I don't only use it just to go to school."

The change would likely hurt ridership at OC Transpo, as students make up a sizeable portion of their passengers on some routes.

OC Transpo's manager of transit service, planning and reporting Pat Scrimgeour issued a statement Tuesday saying their transit agency looked forward to discussing the plan with the OSTA once the board makes a decision.

The recommendation will be considered by trustees at a meeting Oct. 15, and would go before the board Oct. 22.

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