Trends and Issues: Equitable, Affordable Transportation
Parkland School Division is a regional transportation provider, offering school bus service to Parkland School Division as well as Evergreen Catholic Separate School Division and additional private schools and academies in the area. The regional transportation system operates as a strong example of the Board’s enduring priority of resource stewardship, maximizing bus capacity and minimizing the number of buses that the region requires on our roads each day.
With strong safety considerations front-of-mind, bus route design focuses on system efficiency. The current growth in the City of Spruce Grove and Town of Stony Plain continues to challenge the Division’s bus capacity. While our families enjoy opportunities for choice with respect to accessing many of our schools, the growth of the city means that it is no longer feasible to transport students from any location in the city to every single school site. Families that require alternate seats to different homes on different days may find that transportation is not available beyond our requirement to transport from a designated home to a designated school.
The Division purchased the land and teamed up with Alberta Education to build a new transfer site adjacent to the new Copperhaven School. That site opened in January 2018 and has capacity for additional buses. This has gone a long way in alleviating some of the pressures in Spruce Grove and allows the system to operate even more efficiently.
Limited physical roadway access into some neighbourhoods in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain and Parkland County subdivisions has also presented Transportation Services with an additional challenge, as the current 72+ passenger buses are unable to travel these routes safely. This tasks Transportation Services to use smaller bus configurations that, in turn, increase operating costs.
In keeping with the enduring priority of Resource Stewardship, the Board will continue to determine strategies for maximizing services to meet increasing demands while working to maintain a reasonable and equitable fee structure to offset service delivery funding deficits.