A Rocky View Schools (RVS) transportation official made a presentation to school trustees on bussing challenges and proposed plans to meet the upcoming demand on Jan. 25.
RVS senior transportation manager Morley Kostecky explained what is being done to try and meet the demands for bussing this year and the years to come.
As of January 19, 2024, the total ridership was 12,663. Of that number, 17 per cent, 2,102 riders are students that attend Calgary Catholic Schools. In total, RVS has around 300 different routes with an average of 46 riders per bus. Of all those riders, 123 passengers have special needs, and 31 routes are for specialized transportation.
"The growing demand for student transportation population growth within the school district is estimated to be about 1,000 students per year according to our planning projections. Roughly 44 per cent of those students will be accessing school bus transportation," stated Kostecky.
According to Kostecky, with new eligibility rules introduced by Alberta Education last year, RVS could see a jump of as many as 2,400 additional students entering school buses within the next two years.
Another problem RVS identified is a chronic shortage of transportation resources, including the need for bus parts and school bus drivers.
"After the pandemic, some drivers decided not to not to come back. We also saw competition for class two trained drivers from outside the school busing sector. The Calgary Transit Authority announced last year they were looking for 800 drivers. We also face competition from the Calgary school districts for drivers as well."
A plan is in place to try and attract new drivers over the next two years. RVS is also planning to add an additional 15 routes next school year. That number will climb to 325 to 340 the following year. All of this means a need for additional funding.
"We have applied for eight provincial driver training grants under the bus driver training incentive offered by Alberta Education."
"We recognize that there are a lot of challenges for transportation in the future, but we've started early on implementing new solutions. I'm optimistic that we have a good head start on minimizing the impact of these challenges."