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New school bus routes cause concerns

Whitehorse parents are upset over complications arising from changes to school bus routes. Many have taken to social media networks to voice their concerns.

Whitehorse parents are upset over complications arising from changes to school bus routes.

Many have taken to social media networks to voice their concerns, even creating a Facebook group called “Concerns With Whitehorse School Buses” that reached 100 members on Monday.

Problems began showing up just a few days into the new school year.

Complaints range from security concerns to problems with the Department of Education’s electronic registration system.

Kelly Boyd, who lives in Wolf Creek, says that her children must now sit at a transfer station for 10-15 minutes, making their journey more than an hour long.

Corrina Lotz, meanwhile, who lives on Canyon Crescent near Miles Canyon, worries about the safety of her four children - the youngest of which is six - now expected to wait for the bus along the Alaska Highway.

“For the first couple of days, the bus came into Canyon Crescent and picked them up, but when they were dropped off they were told they had to get out on the highway,” she said.

“On the third day, the bus didn’t show up and they told me the pick up had to be on the highway, too. Someone at the Department of Education told me it takes extra time for the driver to go into the crescent.

“My youngest is six years old - I can’t have my children on the highway. That’s unacceptable, and I can’t believe someone came up with that solution.”

Lotz called Takhini Transport, the company contracted by the Department of Education, to ask about the change.

Someone told her the department had an issue with the company turning left onto the highway.

“Are you kidding me? Don’t we learn how to hang left when we get our driver’s licences?” she said.

Parents were asked to review changes to the bus routes over the summer.

They were also asked to register their children using the department’s new electronic system, to allow time to plan the routes.

The system is undergoing some growing pains, however.

Some parents are now claiming their children are not being picked up for school in the morning, or that they’re being asked to drive significant distances to drop them off at transfer stations.

“Having to drive your kids to the bus stop kind of defeats the purpose. Right?” said Renee Samantha Clarice Beecher on the Facebook group.

Last week, department spokesperson Mark Hill said the new bus routes were a necessary change.

“Over time, the bus routes were tweaked and it became a bit of a rat’s nest,” he told the News.

“There were a lot of situations where kids were spending unnecessary long periods of time on the bus. It meant going back to the drawing board and setting up new routes.”

Hill said parents were given ample time to register their children online, but many failed to do so over the summer.

“Bus schedules had to be locked in by the Friday prior to the first day of school, and at that point there were still several hundred students who had not been registered for buses,” he said.

The department issued a statement on its bus routes website informing parents they were working to remedy individual complaints.

“We are receiving a high volume of calls and new bus registrations,” it states.

“We are processing registrations as quickly as possible and adjusting bus schedules and stops daily. We apologize for the delay in responding to individual questions and concerns.”

The changes aren’t creating headaches for all parents, some of whom were praising the new routes.

“I like the new schedule,” Cathy Hall said on Facebook, “my grandkids are only on the bus for 35 minutes now instead of an hour.”

The Department of Education is holding a meeting to address parents’ concerns tonight at Hidden Valley Elementary School at 7 p.m.

Contact Myles Dolphin at