From left to right, Haida Gwaii school trustees Denise Husband, Elizabeth Condrotte, and Kim Goetzinger get ready to cut the ribbons on three of the school district’s brand-new buses. Together with a fourth, 24-passenger bus, the in-house fleet is expected to save the district about $200,000 a year once the capital costs are paid off. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

New school buses offer more safety, and savings

The wheels on Haida Gwaii’s new school buses go round and round, but their red-light cameras go click, click, click.

Among the safety features on the school district’s fleet of four brand-new buses are exterior video cameras that will record any cars or trucks which fail to stop when kids are getting on or off.

“Basically, if any car blows by while the stop sign is out, it takes a picture,” says Ron Erickson, a salesperson with First Truck Centre, which delivered the new buses last week.

Once it goes to the RCMP, that picture will be worth a $368 fine and three demerit points to the driver.

Besides the external cameras, the new buses feature larger windshields and front-mounted guard arms to keep students in the driver’s view. They also come with GPS tracking, power mirrors, a bright light above the boarding steps, disc brakes, and comfy air-ride seats for the drivers.

Parent councils need to give them a final okay, but the new buses also have interior video cameras in case there is trouble on board.

Speaking at a launch ceremony outside GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay last Friday, Maintenance Supervisor Lao Peerless noted that all four buses cost a total of $460,000 — a significant share of B.C.’s $10 million school bus budget.

“That is almost unheard of, to get that many buses for the population of students that we have,” Peerless said.

“The ministry really came through for us.”

Running its own bus fleet is a big change for the school district, one that could eventually save around $200,000 a year and make field trips far more affordable.

Previously, the district had a bussing contract with FirstStudent Canada that was set to reach $605,000 a year. Field trips were costing about $800 or $900 on average, but should now fall to about half that.

Peerless said the school district won’t see savings in the first year — while the three 76-passenger and one 24-passenger school buses came at no cost, the district also had to buy a spare bus and a tsunami-ready bus, plus spare parts and fleet cars for the drivers.

One bus will stay parked near Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary and another near Tahayghen Elementary in Masset in case of a tsunami evacuation. The shorter 24-seat bus will carry Sandspit students to GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay from the ferry terminal, but may also be handy for field trips to more out-of-the-way places, such as Gray Bay.

Before blessing the new buses in Haida language, School Trustee Kim Goetzinger said the board worked hard to find a way out of what was becoming an unaffordable bussing contract.

Goetzinger also thanked the district’s bus drivers for taking such care of the islands’ children.

“There have been a lot of things in your path: mudslides, earthquakes, tsunami warnings, sheer black ice, cows, there’s just always something — deer,” she said.

“We take that for granted sometimes.”



andrew.hudson@haidagwaiiobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Masset dodges empty-ballot bullet

After an extended deadline, Masset now has enough candidates for council

Sunny skies for Terry Fox Run

Queen Charlotte and Masset runs raise nearly $3,000 for cancer research

Masset short on council candidates, other communities okay

Nominations deadline for Masset council extended to 4 p.m. Monday

Fishing boat ‘Haida Legend’ sinks off Langara Island

All crew rescued by nearby sport fishers, boat was re-fitted in late 2016

Last day to run for Oct. 20 election

Candidates have until 4 p.m. today to file nomination packages

Canning sockeye by hand in North Coast B.C.

Arnie Nagy teaches the Northern View how to can salmon in Prince Rupert

Parents of B.C. toddler who died in unlicensed daycare sue over negligence

‘Baby Mac’ was only 16 months old when he died in a Vancouver daycare

Syrian family can, finally, feel safe after settling in B.C.

Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity White Rock meets sponsored family for the first time

1st private moon flight passenger to invite creative guests

The Big Falcon Rocket is scheduled to make the trip in 2023, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced at an event Monday at its headquarters near Los Angeles.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Mrs. Maisel’ triumph at Emmys

In a ceremony that started out congratulating TV academy voters for the most historically diverse field of nominees yet, the early awards all went solely to whites.

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in began his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

Russia blames Israel for plane shot down by Syrian missile

A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was brought down over the Mediterranean Sea as it was returning to its home base inside Syria, killing all 15 people on board.

Vancouver park board passes motion to learn Indigenous place names

The name of Vancouver’s Stanley Park is now up for debate as the city’s park board confronts its colonial past and pursues reconciliation.

Champ golfer from Spain killed in Iowa; suspect charged

Police said Celia Barquin Arozamena was found dead Monday morning at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines.

Most Read