Bus fees return to Chilliwack school district

Parents asked to sign children up online for the service, and fees will range from $215 to $700 a year

Students eligible to ride the school bus in Chilliwack will pay $215 a year

Students eligible to ride the school bus in Chilliwack will pay $215 a year

Some Chilliwack families’ back-to-school budgets will include bus fees this year.

The school board voted to bring back bus fees this April, with those fees starting in September. Families using the services will have to pay between $215 to $700 for the year, depending on their individual circumstances. Those fees should be paid as soon as possible, says the district, although there is no definite deadline. Parents are being asked to register their children online, so that final adjustments can be made to the school bus routes.

Once a child is a registered rider, he or she will be issued a personalized bus pass through their school.

Bus services have been cancelled or had fees attached in several B.C. school districts over the last year, as districts struggle to balance their budgets. Abbotsford has introduced bus fees, while Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows cut services entirely, beginning in 2016.

This is not the first time the Chilliwack board has decided to recoup bus costs with a user fee. Bus fees were in place as recently as 2012, when they were scrapped by the board.

The fees only cover a small portion of the total cost of transportation. The district receives $2.3 million in provincial funding for student transportation costs, but spends about $2.7 million annually getting kids to and from school. Collecting a annual ridership fees is expected to fill the $400,000 gap in the budge.

At the time of voting, the board also expected that some parents would chose to not use the services, which would result in fewer buses to operate.

Gerry Slykhuis, secretary-treasurer for the School District 33, said that they are hearing mixed reviews from parents regarding the fees, now that the time has come to collect payments.

He said they’ve heard “only a few complaints so far, plus a few that are understanding of the need to do this.”

Bus service is not a blanket service available to all students.

Several schools have a catchment area that is within the district’s “walk limit,” which is 3 km for K to Grade 6 students and 4 km for higher grades. FG Leary, Little Mountain, Strathcona, Central, Bernard, Tyson and Watson elementary all fall within that limit, as so AD Rundle, Chilliwack and Vedder middle.

Vanessa Campbell-Reid’s children attend FG Leary. She says she would love to send them on the school bus, both for the experience, and to help de-congest the school’s very small parking lot.

“(It’s) very frustrating because there is very limited parking and it causes havoc every day,” she says. “Not to mention the safety of the kids and pollution with all those vehicles.”

Other families are only partially served by the bus system, because their children are courtesy riders or because they live in a less populated, rural area.

Angela MacKinnon-Westrop lives along Chilliwack Lake Road, and her four children travel into Vedder as courtesy riders. Their morning bus ride is 40 minutes long, coming in just under the 45 minute maximum riding time the district has in place. But the ride home would be one hour and twenty minutes, including two separate trips up Promontory. For that reason, they are not allowed to ride home.

Her family’s extenuating circumstances are just one example of how the district is being flexible with parents. Because service is only available one way, they only will have to pay half of the fees.

Concessions will also be made for families who have paid the annual fees, and then move to an area where it’s not needed. In that case, Slykhuis says, a rebate would be issued. And for families who find themselves needing bus service much later in the year, fees will be prorated.

Fees also will not be charged to families that can demonstrate a financial hardship.

A single eligible rider fee is $215, and families with two or more eligible riders are capped at $430. Courtesy riders will now pay $350, to a family cap of $700.

As one commenter on social media pointed out, that’s a rate of .61 cents per ride, for eligible riders. For courtesy riders, it breaks down to just under a dollar.

For more information on eligibility criteria, fees, and to see what school catchment you live in, visit the school district website and click on bus registration.

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A new sign was installed at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Community effort to install new sign at Chilliwack’s oldest church

‘We feel it’s a step in the right direction to bring the church up-to-date,’ says St. Thomas parishioner

Dennis Saulnier rescued his daughters, two-year-old Brinley (left) and four-year-old Keegan, after their truck was driven off the road and into Cultus Lake on May 16, 2020. Reporter Jenna Hauck has been recognized by the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association for her story on the rescue. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Chilliwack Progress, Hope Standard staff take home 7 Ma Murray awards

Jenna Hauck, Eric Welsh, Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock all earn journalism industry recognition

A student prepares to throw a plate full of whipped cream at principal Jim Egdcombe’s face as vice principal Devin Atkins watches as part of a fundraiser at Leary Integrated Arts and Technology elementary on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
The pied principals: Chilliwack elementary staff get messy for charity

Cops for Cancer fundraiser saw kids ‘pie the principal’ at Leary elementary in Chilliwack

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read