Calgary

Calgary school bus cuts cause anger among parents

Some Calgary parents say they are being forced to make costly and inconvenient changes to cope with cuts to the public school bus system.

Switch to 'congregated stops' means some students must walk 2.4 kilometres to catch the bus

The CBE announced in May that it would be reducing its bus routes and moving from community-based to "congregated" bus stops. (CBC)

Some Calgary parents say they are being forced to make costly and inconvenient changes to cope with cuts to the public school bus system.

Earlier this year, the Calgary Board of Education replaced several regular bus stops with a handful of so-called "congregated bus stops" in a bid to balance their budgets.

But Kim Hall says she's out thousands of dollars after she had to pull her twin boys off their bus route because the closest congregated bus stop is eight blocks away — one of only three in the entire community of Royal Oak. 

Lisa Davis says the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils has been inundated with complaints. (CBC)

"They would be trudging through a field. It's crossing a main street which is busy with traffic, and then crossing a number of side streets," Hall said.

Hall will now drive the two sixth-graders and then pay for before-and-after school care. 

In other communities, the changes could mean some students will have to walk as far as 2.4 kilometres to catch a ride. 

The Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils says it is being inundated with complaints.

"We are asking our kids to walk farther to their bus stops than we would as adults," says association head Lisa Davis. "How is that reasonable?"

'Big gap' in funding

School board chair Joy Bowen-Eyre says administrators are just simply trying to keep the bus fee affordable. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Another change is the cancellation of the charter bus service for some middle schools, which means those students will now have to use Calgary Transit.

The Calgary Board of Education says inadequate funding left it unable to cover transportation costs for its 37,000 students. 

"We've got a big gap between how much it costs and how many students we need to provide transportation for. We've tried and looked at multiple different things, and so it's a delicate balance," says school board chair Joy Bowen-Eyre. 

She says by trimming the number of bus stops and bus routes, the fees parents have to pay for transportation won't go up.

If the board were to maintain previous service levels, she says transportation fees would jump to roughly $450 each year per student from the current $300 cost.

Corrections

  • The expected cost jump would be $450 a year, not $450 a month.
    Sep 01, 2015 5:29 PM MT

With files from CBC’s Falice Chin

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