Comox Valley School District closing in on fixing busing problems

After almost a year to review the transportation system, School District 71 is close to forming a committee to deal with it.

After almost a year of work to review the transportation system and try to improve it, School District 71 is getting closer to forming a committee to deal specifically with transportation in the district.

Acting secretary-treasurer Ron Amos told the school board Tuesday that he expects the Transportation Standing Committee to hold its first meeting in early 2012.

“The next steps would be to request membership from participating groups and set dates for an inaugural meeting,” he said. “In the next couple of months, we’ll ask for participation and set a date, likely in the New Year after the new board has met.”

After a transportation review in the district from December to May, a new bus pass system was introduced for the 2011-12 school year, along with reduced walk limits.

Last month, the school board voted to re-establish the Transportation Standing Committee.

BC Transit has shown interest in participating in the committee, noted Amos.

The school district previously had a Transportation and Traffic Safety Committee, which met between December 2000 and May 2004, while a Bus Services Task Force met from September 2001 to January 2002.

The Transportation Standing Committee received its first item of business Tuesday when the board referred a letter from the Denman Island Community School Parent Advisory Council (PAC) to the committee.

The PAC has serious transportation and safety concerns with the BC Ferries’s proposal to implement a cable ferry between Denman Island and Buckley Bay and is asking school district staff and trustees to review the proposal, given their mandate to ensure the safe transportation of children to and from school.

“We suggest that this mandate is seriously challenged by issues inherent to the proposed vessel and hope that on this account, you will join us in opposing its implementation,” wrote the PAC.

The PAC is worried about students receiving safe and reliable transportation to and from school and noted its concerns about the reduction of crew, students being stranded onboard should the cable break or be jammed and the cable ferry needing to be docked several times per month because it cannot adjust course to compensate for poor weather or unfavourable currents — conditions to which the current ferry is capable of adjusting — in its letter.

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