Thursday, March 23, 2023 - Alberta Government is changing school busing in the province by adjusting the distance criteria used to determine whether a student is eligible for transportation effective September 1, 2024.
New Distance Criteria for 2024-2025
Kindergarten to Grade 6 students residing 1km or further from their school will be eligible for funding; and Grades 7-12 students residing 2km or further will be eligible for funding.
Parkland School Division (PSD) operates one of the largest regional transportation systems in the province, travelling over 19,000 kilometres every school day. It is a complex system involving many partners including Evergreen Catholic School Division and local area private schools along with over 7,000 riders. Just like PSD buses, the complex system cannot turn on a dime. Therefore, newly created distance parameters do not take effect until September 1, 2024. However, the Alberta Government announced that they will be providing funding to school divisions beginning in 2023-24 for those riders that would meet the new distance criteria if there is an available seat on the bus. Currently, there is a bus and bus driver shortage in the province and in our local area.
Impacts on PSD
PSD is currently in the process of examining the potential impacts these announced changes will have and asks for stakeholders' patience as logistics are worked out. The Division must determine how many more potential riders this will add to a system already short on drivers. For 2023-24, PSD must determine the balance between fees collected and funding supplied by the government based on new ridership levels. The thorough analysis will include whether or not the fee structure must be adjusted for 2023-24 as well as what service levels can continue to be offered by the PSD Regional Transportation system.
Even before the announced changes, PSD Transportation had already been examining all routes to determine efficiencies. Current bus driver shortages present challenges resulting in cancelled routes and extended delays. Any increase in ridership will enhance those challenges. If the impacts result in the need to add more buses to the regional system, potential delays in securing buses and drivers are anticipated.
Registration for 2023-24
For those families who have already completed their registration for the upcoming school year but now decide to access the PSD regional transportation system, they will have to contact their school in order for their school secretary to unlock their PSD online registration form. Once this step is complete, they can amend their registration and submit a busing request. PSD Transportation will do its best to accommodate new riders that fall under the new distance parameters depending on resources and driver availability.
For further information, contact:
PSD Transportation Services