Edmonton

School bus drivers seek permission to park on residential streets

The union representing hundreds of school bus drivers in Edmonton is calling on the city to amend a bylaw allowing buses to park in residential areas during school hours on school days.

Street parking saves time, fuel costs and wear and tear on roads, says union, councillor

An Edmonton bylaw doesn't allow school buses to park in residential areas. The union which represents several hundred drivers wants the law amended. (Janice Johnston/CBC)

The union representing hundreds of school bus drivers in Edmonton is calling on the city to amend a bylaw allowing buses to park in residential areas during school hours on school days.

 "We're just looking for a slight amendment to the by-law," said Jim Haryett, business agent with Teamsters local 987.

"We recognize that residents wouldn't want the buses out there when they're getting home from work, and taking up parking."

Right now, the city bars vehicles weighing more than 4,500 kilograms, including buses, from parking near a residence at any time. The fine is $100.

The union wants permission to park school buses on city streets between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on school days, saving drivers from having to take their buses to the storage yards.

"It's mostly an issue of driver fatigue and not just convenience," said Sue Pritchard, a school bus driver of 12 years.

It takes 20 minutes to make the drive between her home and the school bus storage yard where she picks up her bus at 6 a.m. on a school day.

She makes a second trip to return the bus after the morning run, a third trip to pick it up for the afternoon run, and a fourth when she returns the bus at the end of the day at 6 p.m.

Saves time, fuel, roads

Changing the bylaw will reduce congestion on roads, with about 1,000 school buses on Edmonton streets every day, Haryett said.

"This provides savings in time, fuel, wear and tear on the roads and environmental benefits," Coun. Ben Henderson said Tuesday.

He asked city staff to look into the bylaw and flag any reasons why it might not work. A report will come back to councillors in the next two months.

"Something has changed recently in our practice and drivers are now getting tickets for leaving their buses parked on the street," said Henderson.

Last year, Pritchard got a $100 ticket for parking her school bus in front of her home for about half an hour.

"I work four hours a day for $21.50 an hour, so that's a day's wage," she said.

 A spokesperson for the city's by-law department said there has been no increase in the number of complaints about over-sized vehicles, including buses, parked in residential areas, nor has there been an increase in the number of tickets issued for this offence.

Statistics from the city of Edmonton show 666 overweight vehicles were ticketed in 2016, 1,014 tickets were issued in 2015 and 852 in 2014.

The numbers include tickets for all overweight vehicles, since the city doesn't differentiate the types of vehicles ticketed.