North Okanagan School District #83 received $561,925 under the new provincial Student Transportation Fund and will be addressing issues and ride times.
The district plans to use the funds to: reduce walk limits, add and enhance bus routes, increase supervision on buses, provide safety training and to hire additional staff in the transportation department.
“Transportation to and from school is a very big part of delivering a great educational experience to our kids. A shorter, safer bus ride is something that will make their year much smoother and allow them to concentrate on their studies,” said Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.
An additional bus route has been added from Sorrento/White Lake to Carlin Elementary/Middle School due to increased enrolment and ridership.
A walk limit will be applied to both Salmon Arm Secondary campuses, so an additional bus route could be added for students who live outside the walk limits of one campus.
In the North Shuswap, an additional express bus is a possibility, as well as amendments to the Salmon Arm/Yankee Flats and the Trinity Valley/Mabel Lake routes to reduce ride times.
The addition of two special needs buses would also decrease the current ride times for special needs students by 25 per cent.
The district will also be looking at decreasing walk limits to 3.5 kilometres for all students, which would provide service for an additional 342 riders.
The district had walk limits of four km for Grades K through 3, 4.8 km for Grades 4 to 12 and 3.2 km from the home to bus pick up/drop off location.
The additional routes will also combat the courtesy rider issue, said district secretary treasurer Nicole Bittante.
“A bus route has been added in the Raven area which will help with the courtesy riders in that area. This run will begin picking up students on Monday, November 14,” she said, adding that next year, with the planned reduction in walk limits, there will be more of an impact.
The district found out the grant was approved Wednesday, Oct. 26.
Amending the walk limits will not be completed until the spring.
The new bus routes could be implemented for the 2017/2018 school year.