The North Okanagan Shuswap School District is trying to figure out how to manage courtesy riders on school buses.
Official trustee Mike McKay says the number of courtesy riders has reached a critical point on some routes.
The Education Ministry provides funding for certain buses to accommodate riders outside walk limits.
“We’re getting to a point with an increasing enrolment where that eligible ridership is growing and we have to put some caps and limitations on the number of courtesy riders that can be accommodated.”
He adds some bus routes have been extended over time and in some cases courtesy riders have added 45 minutes to the run.
Pictured: Mike McKay, Official trustee for School District 83
Courtesy riders are those who live outside walk limits who otherwise have no way to get to school and in some cases are young children living in a catchment zone who need a ride.
McKay says part of the problem centres on the downtown core of Salmon Arm where there is no longer an elementary school.
“The transportation supervisor and staff have looked at ways to have a pickup in the downtown core that will get the kids to some of those local area elementary schools that are, yes within walk limits, but a long way for young children.”
McKay says that should be able to done without extending ride times and inconveniencing registered riders or overloading the buses.
There’s been some talk of charging those students, but official trustee Mike McKay says administering that would be difficult.
“And also, in some strange way we’d be asking bus drivers to be monitoring and there’s no way a driver is going to say to a student on the side of the road, sorry you can’t get on the bus because your bus fee wasn’t paid this month.”
McKay says staff will review the issue and come back with some recommendations for the next board meeting May 22nd.