Calgary

CBE students who registered late for yellow bus can expect to wait up to 2 months for a seat

Like many Calgary parents, it wasn't until late August that Farhana Akther made the choice to send her daughter back to her Calgary Board of Education school, forgoing the online option. 

'I think she's going to miss some days of the school because there isn't any alternate solution'

The Calgary Board of Education says families who registered late for yellow bus service can expect waits of up to two months before their child can get a seat. (Émilien Juteau/Radio-Canada)

Like many Calgary parents, it wasn't until late August that Farhana Akther made the choice to send her daughter back to her Calgary Board of Education school, forgoing the online option. 

Immediately after she made that decision, Akther registered the Grade 4 student for the CBE's yellow bus service.

"They sent me a confirmation email right away," she said. 

"If I login to her power school account, it shows me everything. Her bus stop, when the bus is going to leave and it shows me the fees, $800, everything is there."

But, when Akther went to drop her daughter off at the bus on Thursday, the driver informed her that her daughter's name wasn't on the list, and she wouldn't be allowed to ride the bus until it was. 

"I am really surprised," said Akther. "How come she can't take the bus?"

CBE says deadline for registration was June

In an emailed statement to CBC News, the CBE said routes and stops are created based on registered riders it receives by the deadline in June each year. 

And, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBE is required to contact trace on all yellow school buses this year if a student or driver tests positive.

"This means that each student must be assigned a bus route, a bus stop and a bus seat. We are also limited in the number of passengers per bus to ensure no more than two masked students per seat," said the board.

"As a result, any change including additional riders, riders who change addresses or those who cancel have a significant impact on the routing."

The CBE said given the significant volume of requests it's getting, and how each one needs to be addressed individually to meet the requirement, it may take between six to eight weeks to accommodate new registrations. 

"Due to the contact tracing, we must take attendance on the bus, so non-registered riders will be denied access to yellow school buses until their registration has been processed," reads the statement.

It's really uncertain, right? If I go there and she's not able to take the bus, what's going to happen?- Farhana Akther, mom of CBE student

Akther said she is currently a university student and her husband works full time, so they likely won't be able to make that work.

"I think she's going to miss some days of the school," she said. "Because there isn't any alternate solution right now."

And, the mother said the school suggested she continue bringing her daughter to the bus stop each morning to "see what happens."

"It's really uncertain, right? If I go there and she's not able to take the bus, what's going to happen? I'm really frustrated with the current situation," she said.  

Akther said the CBE shouldn't have sent her a confirmation email if there wasn't a spot on the bus for her daughter. 

"They should let us know what's going on. I know the situation is kind of new for all of us, but at least say, 'hey, we are here. We are working on these things,'" she said. "Keep us informed." 

The board said families received information about the importance of registering for transportation several times in the spring, and the registration deadline was extended to June 30.

"We understand that there was a great amount of uncertainty last spring about school re-entry, however, families were not required to pay anything at the time of registration and can cancel transportation service without penalty prior to Sept. 30, 2020," it said. 

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary, currently focused on bringing you stories related to education in Alberta. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

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