Council faces questions about reliability and safety of city bus service in emails from concerned parents

Herald file photo.

After several emails from concerned parents, Council members for the City of Prince Albert discussed what they can do to open up the communication between the City’s transportation service and the students who take City buses to school.

Coun. Tony Head inquired during Monday’s meeting on what the City can do to reassure that students are getting to school on time, how the City can notify parents about the bus schedule and whether or not the bus will be running that day.

Ted Zurakowski, Councillor for Ward 8, said that while the City does not operate the buses, they still need to find ways to support the contractor, First Student Canada, with communicating to ridership.

Although there are still occasional issues, the City’s transportation service has become more reliable since gaining six new buses in the last year, said Wes Hicks, Director of Public Works for the City of Prince Albert.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure those buses are on the road every single day,” said Hicks, who confirmed the department is working with First Student Canada on bringing in two additional buses to help with the influx of young ridership.

“With six we struggle because we have six routes. If one breaks down, we’re in trouble. We have identified the problem,” said Mayor Greg Dionne. “We do have two more buses coming that we hope to have shortly and then we’ll be a lot more reliable.”

Head added that he has heard some concerns about the lack of security measures at the downtown transit station for the younger students who ride the bus alone.

Although Hicks said the City of Prince Albert has never provided any security services at the downtown station, Mayor Greg Dionne mentioned he would be bringing up the topic to the police department in the near future.

“They should be there in the mornings and afternoons,” said Dionne. “That’s when a majority of the students are there.”

Dionne said there is a bigger responsibility on the City now that the school board is no longer hauling students to class.