Concerns about the cutting of bus service in St. George’s are being expressed by at least one parent.
©Frank Gale/The Western Star
Erica Cressy is concerned for the safety of children on Steel Mountain Road in St. George’s now that busing is no long being provided there.
She said about 50 students from the town have been taken off buses this year, and about 20 of them are on Steel Mountain Road, despite that service being in place for decades.
Cressy said what was most disappointing is there was no prior notice and she just found out about it on Facebook a few days before school started.
She said it appears the school board is now strictly enforcing a 1.6-kilometre rule and she’s at about 1.51 km from the school, according to their measurements. However, she said a residence up past her house was past the 1.6-kilometre mark and now all of a sudden it’s less than that.
“I don’t think that house moved,” she said.
St. George’s Mayor Danny Conway said the measurement used goes up Courthouse Road, cutting off two- to three-tenths of a kilometre.
He says that isn’t right, and the distance should be where the bus travels, which has always been on Steel Mountain Road and not Courthouse Road.
Cressy said both those roads are not fit for students to walk on, with vehicles driving faster than the posted limit on Steel Mountain Road and Courthouse Road being very narrow.
She has a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old going to school, and she fears for her younger child, who will attend kindergarten next year.
“This is crazy and unsafe,” Cressy said.
Terry Hall, district spokesperson for transportation, said every five years the board re-tenders the bus routes, and five years ago Courthouse Road wouldn’t have been acceptable as a personal vehicle or pedestrian route, but now it is.
Because of that, the Steel Mountain Road area plays into the 1.6-km calculation. He said the bus still runs on that road, so parents have the opportunity to apply for courtesy seating if there is room on the bus.
When asked about safety concerns, Hall said the board runs into different scenarios across the province and as long as they deem it safe, students can walk that route to school.
In addition to talking to the school principal, Cressy has also brought up the matter with Conway and MHA Scott Reid.
Reid said he met with a group of parents last week, and he understands where they are coming from and sees this as a serious issue.
He said this is a steep hill with quite a bit of traffic, including heavy equipment and no sidewalks for most of the hill.
Reid said he has been in touch with school board officials and the minister of Education and Early Childhood Development about this issue.
Conway said he put forward a request to meet with Wayne Lee, the area’s representative on the English school board.
Lee said he hadn’t heard of any such request, but he’s certainly available to meet with him.