School busing concerns in Lantzville will go to the board table for discussion this week.
The agenda for the Nanaimo Ladysmith school district’s board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26, includes letters submitted by parents to the district regarding transportation to Dover Bay Secondary School, including Cristi Lundman, whose daughter is a Grade 10 student at the school. Grade 4-12 students qualify for busing if they live beyond an established walk limit of 4.3 kilometres, according to the district.
Students residing closer than the walk limit can be granted courtesy ridership status if they apply and if there is space available.
Lundman resides 4.2 kilometres from the high school and said there used to be two buses coming in and out of Lantzville, but one route has been cut. She said there used to be a bus stop near the Lantzville legion and Seaview Elementary School, which a lot of students used, but it has been removed.
“The nearest bus stop, the last stop on the route now is at Peterson Road and Lantzville Road … We haven’t been given any real, straight answers and part of the issue is that we weren’t really warned about it,” said Lundman. “So nobody really knew what was happening until it happened. A couple of years ago, the same thing was threatened and we all wrote letters and we discussed some of the safety issues because we don’t have sidewalks.
“It’s a really steep climb up out of Lantzville in the mornings. The kids would have to start in the dark and the street lights are quite spaced out, so we definitely had some safety concerns.”
Lundman said public transit service isn’t great and kids are finding the school bus is really crowded and it takes a long time – they don’t get off the bus in the afternoon until after 4 p.m., she said.
When asked what she would like to see, Lundman said a return to previous service levels.
“I think that’s pretty much the way that people in Lantzville are feeling about it,” said Lundman. “We were very adequately served previously and the kids, they were safer on the bus.”
Pete Sabo, school district director of planning and operations, is expected to provide further information about busing in the Lantzville area at Wednesday’s meeting.
In an e-mail, Dale Burgos, school district spokesman, said the route has one bus that can accommodate 84 students, with three per seat. It was found that on the peak day, there were 59 students. In the past, there were two buses, which allowed for one or two riders per seat. By consolidating into one bus, it provided maximum efficiency and would allow the district to re-allocate resources where most needed, according to Burgos.
“The first weeks of school is a time where the transportation department finalizes bus ridership numbers,” said Burgos. “Knowing that this is a busy route, but not having received all registrations, there was a second bus waiting on standby (starting Sept. 6) in the event the first bus is over capacity. To date, the second bus has not been required. It has been determined that there is sufficient space to accommodate all registered eligible and courtesy riders on this route.”