Hamilton school trustees rethink stand against longer walk distances

News Oct 26, 2018 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

After initially rejecting the idea, Hamilton public school trustees are considering increasing the maximum walking distance for kindergarten students — albeit not as much as recommended by staff.

Members of the policy committee have agreed to consult the public on setting a new limit of 1.2 kilometres next September, up from the current one kilometre and the same as the Catholic board’s maximum before students become eligible to ride a school bus.

Staff had recommended an upper limit of 1.6 kilometres to match the distance for grades 1 to 8 and take five buses off the road in response to trustees’ request for potential solutions to a persistent driver shortage that is delaying routes.

Board chair Todd White said matching distances with the Catholic board makes sense since it’s a partner in the transportation consortium that contracts busing for both boards, which have an ongoing combined shortage of 20 to 25 drivers.

He said trustees can always “ease the pain” by phasing in the change to minimize the impact on existing JK students and allowing principals to offer courtesy spots on buses when seats are available at no cost to the board.

“There’s a lot of in-betweens,” White said.” It’s not a black and white as you’re on or you’re off.”

Associate director Stacey Zucker said reviewing the busing policy is also necessary because the transportation consortium’s annual bill is expected to go up by a minimum of $5 million when contracts with four bus providers end in two years.

She said the public board already spends about $1 million more than it gets from the province and other Ontario boards hit with higher bills when renewing contracts haven’t received any financial help from Queen’s Park.

To find other savings, trustees asked staff to explore the possibility of having high school students ride city buses where possible.

Zucker said the board presently provides school buses for secondary students beyond a 3.2km walk limit because it’s cheaper than the $625 for an annual HSR pass, although that could change in two years.

White said partnering with the city is an obvious potential way to get more school buses off the road, especially with the planned LRT line and BLAST network of rapid bus routes.

“They want people on public transit. So do we, but we’re running our own transit and these buses only operate twice a day; theirs operate all day long,” he said. “From a public-dollars perspective, it makes no sense.”

 


Hamilton school trustees rethink stand against longer walk distances

Public board to also explore switching high school students to HSR

News Oct 26, 2018 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

After initially rejecting the idea, Hamilton public school trustees are considering increasing the maximum walking distance for kindergarten students — albeit not as much as recommended by staff.

Members of the policy committee have agreed to consult the public on setting a new limit of 1.2 kilometres next September, up from the current one kilometre and the same as the Catholic board’s maximum before students become eligible to ride a school bus.

Staff had recommended an upper limit of 1.6 kilometres to match the distance for grades 1 to 8 and take five buses off the road in response to trustees’ request for potential solutions to a persistent driver shortage that is delaying routes.

Board chair Todd White said matching distances with the Catholic board makes sense since it’s a partner in the transportation consortium that contracts busing for both boards, which have an ongoing combined shortage of 20 to 25 drivers.

They want people on public transit. So do we, but we’re running our own transit and these buses only operate twice a day; theirs operate all day long. — Todd White

He said trustees can always “ease the pain” by phasing in the change to minimize the impact on existing JK students and allowing principals to offer courtesy spots on buses when seats are available at no cost to the board.

“There’s a lot of in-betweens,” White said.” It’s not a black and white as you’re on or you’re off.”

Associate director Stacey Zucker said reviewing the busing policy is also necessary because the transportation consortium’s annual bill is expected to go up by a minimum of $5 million when contracts with four bus providers end in two years.

She said the public board already spends about $1 million more than it gets from the province and other Ontario boards hit with higher bills when renewing contracts haven’t received any financial help from Queen’s Park.

To find other savings, trustees asked staff to explore the possibility of having high school students ride city buses where possible.

Zucker said the board presently provides school buses for secondary students beyond a 3.2km walk limit because it’s cheaper than the $625 for an annual HSR pass, although that could change in two years.

White said partnering with the city is an obvious potential way to get more school buses off the road, especially with the planned LRT line and BLAST network of rapid bus routes.

“They want people on public transit. So do we, but we’re running our own transit and these buses only operate twice a day; theirs operate all day long,” he said. “From a public-dollars perspective, it makes no sense.”

 


Hamilton school trustees rethink stand against longer walk distances

Public board to also explore switching high school students to HSR

News Oct 26, 2018 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

After initially rejecting the idea, Hamilton public school trustees are considering increasing the maximum walking distance for kindergarten students — albeit not as much as recommended by staff.

Members of the policy committee have agreed to consult the public on setting a new limit of 1.2 kilometres next September, up from the current one kilometre and the same as the Catholic board’s maximum before students become eligible to ride a school bus.

Staff had recommended an upper limit of 1.6 kilometres to match the distance for grades 1 to 8 and take five buses off the road in response to trustees’ request for potential solutions to a persistent driver shortage that is delaying routes.

Board chair Todd White said matching distances with the Catholic board makes sense since it’s a partner in the transportation consortium that contracts busing for both boards, which have an ongoing combined shortage of 20 to 25 drivers.

They want people on public transit. So do we, but we’re running our own transit and these buses only operate twice a day; theirs operate all day long. — Todd White

He said trustees can always “ease the pain” by phasing in the change to minimize the impact on existing JK students and allowing principals to offer courtesy spots on buses when seats are available at no cost to the board.

“There’s a lot of in-betweens,” White said.” It’s not a black and white as you’re on or you’re off.”

Associate director Stacey Zucker said reviewing the busing policy is also necessary because the transportation consortium’s annual bill is expected to go up by a minimum of $5 million when contracts with four bus providers end in two years.

She said the public board already spends about $1 million more than it gets from the province and other Ontario boards hit with higher bills when renewing contracts haven’t received any financial help from Queen’s Park.

To find other savings, trustees asked staff to explore the possibility of having high school students ride city buses where possible.

Zucker said the board presently provides school buses for secondary students beyond a 3.2km walk limit because it’s cheaper than the $625 for an annual HSR pass, although that could change in two years.

White said partnering with the city is an obvious potential way to get more school buses off the road, especially with the planned LRT line and BLAST network of rapid bus routes.

“They want people on public transit. So do we, but we’re running our own transit and these buses only operate twice a day; theirs operate all day long,” he said. “From a public-dollars perspective, it makes no sense.”