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City school bus review to consult local school boards and bus companies

City administrators are in the midst of a review of the city’s policy for school buses using their stop arms and flashing lights, a practice that isn’t allowed on any street in Grande Prairie with a speed limit of less than 80 km/hour. Enforcement Services Manager Chris Manuel says they have had a good look at a number of other Alberta communities , like the city of Calgary, that have gone through reviews of similar policies. He says they also want to talk to the Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

“In 2010 Wood Buffalo made an amendment to their bylaw that essentially permitted the use of flashing lights and stop arms. We want to learn what have been the successes of their approach and what have been the consequences because there is likely both. We want to see if they have any regrets or if they are 100 per cent satisfied.”

The review was begun at the request of a number of local parents who would like to see the policy changed after a child was struck by a vehicle after getting off a bus in Creekside last month. Manuel says that while there have been near misses, that collision was an isolated incident.

“In the city of Grande Prairie the only injury collision that we can find documented, that has occurred since 1987, is the one that recently occurred in October. Certainly we have received reports of vehicles that have come close, absolutely.”

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Manuel says at this point consultation is still needed with local school boards and transportation companies before a recommendation can be made to city Councillors. He adds that if changes are going to be made, they won’t happen immediately.

“We would like to get all of our ducks in a row so we can have a robust program to roll out for, essentially, the summer. It takes a little bit of time to implement broad changes to policy and procedures, and that’s difficult to do when you’re at the tail end of a school year.”

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