Students in Surrey will have improved access to school transportation services following a new transportation fund announced by the provincial government this week.
Based on a Ministry of Education formula that determines the rural make-up of a school district, the Surrey School District is eligible for $72,999 of the new $14.7-million School Transportation Fund announced Aug. 10.
To be eligible for the funding, districts must submit a plan to the Ministry of Education by Sept. 30 outlining how the transportation funds will be used. The districts will also be required to eliminate any transportation fees currently charged to families for local or catchment area transportation services.
Despite being the largest district in the province, Surrey has a relatively small number of students dependent on buses, said district spokesperson Doug Strachan.
That said, Strachan is pleased to receive the funding and will use the money in the best way possible.
“We’re grateful to have the money,” said Strachan. “We may be able to use it for extra-curricular activities for instance, where students are staying after hours, but we’ll look at what we can do along those lines.”
Districts will also be required to report back to the ministry about the outcomes and the benefits they achieved as a result of the funding.
“Stable, predictable funding for transportation improvements is a big help to our local school districts,” said Peter Fassbender, MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood. “It allows them to look ahead and make plans for consistent improvements to bus services that will benefit our students and their families.”
The transportation funds can be used in a variety of ways, including:
• Improving service by adding new or amended routes;
• Improving access to local transit services;
• Providing accessible services for students with disabilities:
• Reducing ride times;
• Boosting student safety by relocation bus stops and improving supervision;
• Funding existing transportation services and investing the savings in enhanced student services.