Off the buses

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

Many more grade 7 and 8 pupils at­tend­ing area English-lan­guage schools will no longer be able to take the bus when classes re­sume in the fall.

As part of an aus­ter­ity pro­gram, walk zones are be­ing ex­tended by Stu­dent Trans­porta­tion of Eastern On­tario, the con­sor­tium that over­sees bussing for the Catholic District School Board of Eastern On­tario (CDSBEO) and the Up­per Canada District School Board (UCDSB).

Ef­fec­tive Septem­ber, the max­i­mum walk­ing dis­tance for grade 7 and 8 stu­dents will be length­ened from 1.6 kilo­me­tres to 2 kilo­me­tres, the same dis­tance that now ap­plies to grades 9 through 12.

Un­less they have a valid med­i­cal rea­son, stu­dents living within the walk zones can­not board a bus.

Ser­vices are be­ing curbed as the STEO tries to counter the ris­ing cost of pro­vid­ing what is viewed as an es­sen­tial ser­vice.

“STEO and the school boards are fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant and un­prece­dented cost in­creases to stu­dent trans­porta­tion at 2018 and be­yond, which will re­quire an anal­y­sis of ex­ist­ing prac­tices and a strate­gic and ef­fi­cient ap­proach to stu­dent trans­porta­tion ser­vices,” reads a re­port pre­sented to the UCDSB. “Pur­su­ing th­ese steps will be im­por­tant for con­sid­er­ing how to sus­tain a rea­son­able level of trans­porta­tion ser­vices for our stu­dents for the fu­ture and to en­sure that the school boards who use STEO’s ser­vices can con­tinue to do so with full re­gard to af­ford­abil­ity.”

STEO op­er­ates ap­prox­i­mately 750 ve­hi­cles that trans­port ap­prox­i­mately 32,000 stu­dents, in­clud­ing about 22,000 of the 27,000 en­rolled in UCDSB schools.

Ear­lier this year, the STEO board of direc­tors “ap­proved a num­ber of ef­fi­ciency mea­sures on a go-for­ward ba­sis.”

In ad­di­tion to the align­ment of walk dis­tance for grades 7 and 8 to that of grades 9 through 12, the new pol­icy re­moves “cour­tesy rid­ers” from the list of those who are ex­empt from the rules. A “cour­tesy rider” is a stu­dent who lives within a walk zone but can board a bus if a seat is avail­able. and re­viewed an­nu­ally.”

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