Alberta aims to shorten school ride times for students

RED DEER — The Alberta government is working with two rural school divisions to come up with ways to improve school bus rides for students.

RED DEER — The Alberta government is working with two rural school divisions to come up with ways to improve school bus rides for students.

Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says adding more routes should shorten the amount of time kids have to spend getting to and from school.

The idea is to avoid “milk runs” which see students having to spend the whole time on a bus as it stops at every single house on a route, he said.

The idea will be tested in the Golden Hills School Division, which includes Three Hills, Drumheller and Strathmore.

“Kids are spending on buses up to two hours one way, so when you have a child showing up at school at 8:30 in the morning, that child has been on a bus since 6:30 in the morning,” Lukaszuk said Friday as he announcement the project in Red Deer, Alta.

“That kid is tired. He’s not ready to learn in the classroom, so we will replan the transportation patterns and look at different fleets of buses to make the time shorter for the child.”

The government is also equipping about 30 buses in the Medicine Hat area, which is part of the Prairie Rose School Division, with Wi-Fi to enable students whose rides are more than an hour long to do their homework on the bus.

“Imagine if a child can, as they’re sitting on the bus for two hours, get their homework done and by Internet file it onto the school server, as many kids already do from home. So when he gets home and mom says, ’What do you have for homework?’ he can say, ’I’ve already done it on the bus.”’

Lukaszuk says the projects will be assessed at the end of the school year in June and, if successful, will be expanded to other school divisions.

The cost for adding routes in the Golden Hills division is estimated at $350,000. The Wi-Fi upgrade is pegged at $210,000.

The projects are part of the government’s 10-point plan for improving education. (CHUB, CKGY)

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