Province rolls out safer, more environmentally-friendly buses
'Our students really are our future and safety is our primary concern'
The provincial government is rolling out 42 new school buses, at a cost of $4.4 million, as part of an effort to reduce carbon emissions and improve student safety.
After an inspection of the school bus fleet earlier this summer, the province made a decision to accelerate the replacement of some older buses by purchasing an additional 22 this year.
Each 70-passenger bus cost about $100,000.
"Our students really are our future and safety is our primary concern," said Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Brad Trivers. "We move a lot of students back and forth, I believe it's around 15,000, every day to school and then every day back home, and so we need to make sure they're safe."
The buses come with added safety features including two stop arms and a new roof-mounted strobe light that stays on at all times making it easier for drivers to see the buses, particularly in bad weather when visibility is poor.
"It's there to just create that visual pull on drivers' eyes to make sure that they see the bus," bus driver Jordan Stewart said.
"It's visible from very far away and anything that we can do to try and get the travelling public to see us is the big thing."
Another reason the province purchased the buses was to cut down on expensive repairs to its aging fleet. The new buses will also run on gasoline instead of diesel, which is a first for the province.
"We took a look at electric buses, we weren't quite there yet," Trivers said. He also said the new buses produce 7.2 per cent fewer emissions compared to the old diesel buses.
"They're also cheaper to maintain for various reasons."
'Keep them safe on our roads'
The province plans to use the new buses on high-volume roads like provincial highways and on routes where motorists have been known to illegally pass stopped school buses.
Islanders are being asked to drive with extra care next week when buses are back on the roads and students are walking to school.
"It is our collective responsibility to keep them safe on our roads, streets and sidewalks," Trivers said. "The best thing we can all do to keep our children safe is to slow down in school zones and remain stopped until the red lights on the bus stop flashing."
Twenty-two of the buses arrived this summer. The remaining buses should be on provincial roads by October.
Students will start riding the new buses when school begins Sept. 5.
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