Vehicle safety branch pulls over crowded school bus in Nanaimo

NANAIMO - Parents are concerned about student safety after a school bus was pulled over by Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement

Parents are concerned about student safety after a school bus was pulled over by Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement near Yellow Point Tuesday.

The bus services Route 12 in the school district – primary, intermediate and secondary school students from Yellow Point and Kulleet Bay to Ladysmith – and according to Donna Reimer, communications director for the school district, provincial regulations state there can be three elementary students to a seat and two secondary students to a seat. Reimer said she doesn’t believe the bus was over its 84-passenger limit when it was stopped, but it still had a couple of students to pick up. The driver took the students to school before returning for the remaining two.

“What’s happened is because the routes have changed, the students don’t have as much space as they used to, the bus is fuller than it used to be and so they’re not used to sitting as many of them together as they have been in the past,” Reimer said.

Crowded school buses have been on the minds of parents, including Paul Gunnell.

“It’s illegal to actually have school kids standing on a bus. The only buses that are legally allowed to have standing room only are transit buses in the city – tour buses and school buses are not allowed,” Gunnell said.

The school district has walk limits beyond which it will bus students. Students that are inside walk limits can get on a bus as courtesy riders but are not guaranteed a spot.

Reimer said the school district is in the process of registering students for the bus and, in the meantime, has put another bus on the route. The number of students eligible for bus transportation is expected to be less than capacity.

“We expect once the registration is done, that it’ll be a matter of if the bus is over its capacity, then there will be some courtesy riders who won’t be allowed to ride,” Reimer said, adding that once registration is complete – it will take about a week – one bus will once again service Route 12.