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City and school bus drivers will look for compromise on daytime parking

After Global News first brought you the story about the staff at Riverview Elementary in Verdun being forced to direct traffic because cars are zooming past school buses, the mayor of Verdun has now responded, Thursday, November 24, 2016.
A Verdun municipal truck passes by a school bus with its flashers on outside Riverview Elementary in Verdun, Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Kelly Greig / Global News

City staff, and the school bus industry will try to work out a compromise solution to drivers getting ticketed for parking their buses near their homes during the day.

Since 2012, the city has begun ticketing drivers who do their early morning run to get kids to school, park at home during their break, then head back to the school in the afternoon. Buses then spend overnight at the company yard.

The city has been doing the crackdown because the buses are too heavy for residential streets, and in older neighbourhoods where the roads aren’t as wide in the suburbs they can cause a hazard.

“We’re just asking for a little bit of assistance,” said driver Suzanne Pritchard. “I know that camping trailers are allowed to be parked in front of your house for 72 hours. They take up more space than my bus does.”

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“Unfortunately we don’t differentiate between the types of commercial heavy vehicles that we issue tickets to,” Ryan Pleckaitis, director of complaints for the city said. “So it’s hard to say with any amount of accuracy how many of those 719 tickets were issued to school bus drivers.

He guessed that it’s likely 30-50 per cent of those ticketed drive a bus.

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City council’s community and public service committee has asked for more work done on the file because there are a lot of unanswered questions, said chair Coun. Bev Esslinger.

City staff will look into the different sizes of buses, and their weight, and whether having them travel longer distances each day to and from the bus company yard both in the morning and afternoon would cause more wear and tear on city roads, than parking for a few hours mid day in different parts of the city.

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It’s estimated there are 800 to 1,000 bus drivers, however the drivers say not all drivers need to park at home.

“I think we have to look at this,” Esslinger told reporters. “They’re only asking for school days. And they’re only asking for basically nine to three, in neighbourhoods where there’s actual space and where the roads aren’t narrow. Already that’s many places where that wouldn’t be possible. But again we’re going to give the opportunity for the public to weigh in on this as well because they will be impacted.”

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READ MORE: Driver charged after SUV collides with school bus in St. Albert

“We have a lot of things that we have mentioned that we were willing to do,” Pritchard said. “We’re willing to have our neighbours talk to us before they phone bylaw. Talk to us, or phone the bus company.

“We’re not trying to be vindictive. We’re just trying to do our job. Make it a little easier, yes.”

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“I think every school bus driver is going to try to be as conscientious and respectful as possible. It only makes sense,” said driver Shelly Miller.

An updated report will come back to the committee in August.

“Public engagement is going to be part of this conversation because we’ll have strong feelings on both sides of this debate,” Esslinger said. “They have a valid point. We should explore it so we’re just looking at what that might look like.”