School District #83 will be reducing walk limits and improving bus service with four new buses and changes to the transportation plan for September 2017, File photo

New and improved bus service for students

North Okanagan-Shuswap School District acquires new buses and reworks routes.

The wheels on the bus will still go ’round in September, but exactly what route they will take is yet to be determined.

Plans to improve bus service across School District #83 were presented at the May 15 school board meeting in Salmon Arm.

An increase in transportation funding last October is allowing the school district to add three new bus routes, expand service, reduce ride times, and reduce walk limits.

In a report presented to official trustee Mike McKay, operations manager Trevor Bettcher noted work has been ongoing since October when the Ministry of Education approved the plan, along with an additional $561,925 in annual transportation funding, to review the district’s transportation services and implement the changes and enhancements detailed in the district’s plan.

As part of the plan, School District #83 asked for six new buses but were only approved for two.

At Monday’s meeting, McKay noted only $150,00 of the new transportation funding has been spent and approved transferring the remaining dollars to the local capital fund in order to purchase two more buses and a hoist.

In terms of route changes, three new bus routes are being added in three different locations – one in Silver Creek, one in Salmon Arm and one in Armstrong.

In Silver Creek, Bettcher says one bus will begin picking up at the far end of Yankee Flats Road and another will operate in the valley.

In Salmon Arm, a new route will provide service to Salmon Arm Secondary for newly eligible students and will primarily impact students in the Hillcrest area.

In Armstrong, pick-up locations will be expanded in areas not currently being serviced.

The additional transportation funding is also allowing the district to decrease walk limits.

The plan to be in place for September reduces walk limits from 4.8 kilometres to 3.5 km for all grades. This will provide additional transportation service for at least 340 eligible riders.

In his report, Bettcher said evaluating the bus service is an ongoing effort in the transportation department, with some routes being amended for September 2017 in order to create safer stops for students.

“Very few routes will be the same,” he said following the meeting. “All details will be available through an August mail-out.”

New students and anyone else who does not receive information about the new routes by mail before the new school year is advised to call the transportation department at 250-832-9415.