Nanaimo trustees consider cuts to courtesy bus rides

NANAIMO - Four hundred courtesy rider seats on Nanaimo school district buses could be axed as part of the 2015-16 budget.

Four hundred courtesy rider seats on Nanaimo school district buses could be axed as part of the 2015-16 budget.

The elimination of the non-guaranteed bus seats – for students living within walking distance of a school – are part of the proposal, as school trustees try to balance the budget with a $4-million shortfall.

In addition, the district is considering purchasing software that will track when and where students get on buses, trip duration and allow for online registration.

“The students would receive a swap card, so we would know when and if they’re on the bus, numbers, etc.,” said school district superintendent John Blain at a recent budget meeting.

“We would do analysis of the bus routes all year, of the change in courtesy riders, so we could do some efficiency pieces around that as well,” Blain said.

The software is estimated to cost $18,000 and according to Pete Sabo, school district director of planning and operations, the software would be an add-on to the global positioning systems currently installed on buses.

The district isn’t anticipating any savings due to the courtesy seat reductions, as the school district previously approved busing for students in the Cedar school zone to Ladysmith Secondary School.

According to a budget report, the district currently has $345,281 budgeted for 2015-16 for facilities and transportation.

The district is also considering implementing bus rider fees for the 2016-17 school year.