Quesnel’s transit system is set for approximately 200 additional service hours as of September 2018.
City Council this week approved the increased hours, which have been added to accommodate changes to the School District schedule, with the relocation of Quesnel Junior School students from the building on Callanan Street to the renovated school on Mountain Ash Road.
With the relocation, the number of school buses travelling downtown Quesnel during the school year will be greatly reduced, and the School District advised the city that previously Correlieu students have used the buses to get downtown for after school activities or jobs.
Similarly, with the junior school students no longer located within walking distance to downtown jobs and sports centres, they will require transportation after school as well.
And finally, the School District says that with the introduction of a two-week Spring Break for the 2018/19 school year, the school days are becoming incrementally longer, and therefore the bell schedule no longer aligns with Quesnel’s transit schedule, making it difficult for students to access transportation.
These factors have caused BC Transit to examine its schedule for Quesnel, and the body advised the city that aligning the transit schedule for the benefit of the junior and high school students is a complicated process, requiring a complete revision of the current schedule, and the addition of approximately 200 service hours.
The increased hours will incur a cost of $16,000 a year, which is shared by the city and BC Transit. The City of Quesnel’s portion totals $7,700 per year, some of which will be offset by the increase in revenues due to more students using transit.
The staff report on the matter put together by director of community services Jeff Norburn says costs not offset by revenues can be covered by the city’s Transit Surplus.
For this year, the total cost to the city will be around $2,500, as the additional hours will not be added until September.
City Council approved the additional transit hours and cost at its meeting on June 26; however, Councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg passed a motion to request the School District engage in more proactive planning with the city going forward.
“We asked the School District in January or February what they were going to do on the bussing side by dislocating all those kids,” explains Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson.
“They come to us at the 11th hour and we have to completely reschedule our transit system to help move kids around.”
In order to have the schedule in place for the beginning of the school year in September, planning must commence immediately.
“I’m good with it because getting kids onto our transit system early, that’s great, and especially if they become transit users during their life because of it.
“But we could have done that work in February or March and had it in play instead of making the mad dash at the 11th hour to try to get something in place for September,” says Simpson.