Report suggests ways to give Edmonton school bus drivers a break on their break

Edmonton school bus
School bus drivers complained in March 2017 about the number of tickets they're getting for parking overweight vehicles on residential streets. Scott Johnston / 630 CHED

Drivers of school buses are going to get a break from the City of Edmonton, after complaining last March about the number of tickets they’re getting for parking overweight vehicles on residential streets.

A new report heading to a council committee next week gives city council three options to cut the drivers some slack, so they don’t have to make two return trips during the day to the bus companies’ yards.

The city says it can:

  • Devise a permitting program so they can track individual buses,
  • Set up designated zones for buses to park during the time kids are in school or
  • Amend the traffic bylaw to create temporary daytime parking.

If the third option is picked, it would still be limited to the types of buses that would be allowed to park on residential streets. Size will matter, with the heavier buses still not allowed. Currently the cut-off is for vehicles weighing more than 4,500 kilograms. The fine is $100.

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

Coun. Ben Henderson came to the rescue of drivers in June, giving them hope the city would come up with some sort of remedy.

Henderson said he likes option 3 the best, followed by number 1.

“I thought the simplest one was to allow for the daytime [parking], but there’s another option that they’re suggesting that actually allows people to ask for specific permits around it. That might make more sense.”

His thought is using permits would mean the city could specifically deal with neighbours that would be affected, instead of creating a generic city-wide policy.

The report explained why the city has been reluctant to allow buses to be parked on residential streets for long periods of time.

“Buses parked on residential roadways can cause 35 to 6,660 times more damage than an average passenger car, depending on the type and weight of the bus,” the report said.

“That translates into a loss of 10 to 17 years of estimated design life for most residential roads.”

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The report doesn’t break down specific types of vehicles, however it does show a jump in 2012 when the bylaw amendment changed for overweight vehicles. They more than doubled to nearly 1,200 in 2013.

So far this year, there have been almost 400 through July. Earlier estimates ranged anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent of those tickets involved school buses.

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“I’m guessing it’s not something we can deal with quickly,” Henderson said, considering kids go back to school Tuesday. “I think we always knew that. I think we’re going to have to deal with the status quo for the time being.”

Asked if they could look the other way in the meantime while the bylaw is amended, Henderson said, “not officially.”

“That would be against the law.”

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