School bus service to continue for Purple Hill and Rolling Hills

May 12, 2016   ·   0 Comments

The  Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services (STWDSTS) has decided to continue bus service for students in the Rolling Hills and Purple Hill subdivisions in Orangeville for at least another year.

A demonstration to oppose the decision of the STWDSTS to cancel the service in September was held at the intersection of Highway 10 and Broadway (Buena Vista Drive) Friday. The message was safety first and the transportation consortium listened.

“Transportation for the Purple Hill and Rolling Hills subdivision has been reinstated for September 2016 at this time,” said Wendy Dobson General Manager of STWDSTS in an email to The Citizen yesterday.Brenda Kinsella, organizer of the parent committee for the cause, posted the good news on the group’s Facebook page. Ms. Kinsella reported she has been gathering names and addresses of concerned parents and is updating the group’s Facebook page daily. She was elated that service will be reinstated.

“There are so many people to thank who helped in the process from the many jobs like making signs, phone calls, delivering flyers, sending emails, walking in protest, taking pictures and video and telling everyone they meet about our fight to keep kids safe,” wrote Kinsellla.

STWDSTS, the school transportation consortium that provides busing for the Upper Grand School Board, recently mailed notices to families in the Rolling Hills and Purple Hill subdivisions to inform them those areas will no longer qualify for busing to Orangeville District Secondary School (ODSS). The affected subdivisions are located east of Highway 10 and the school is on Faulkner Street.

Cancellation of the service would mean the over 200 ODSS students who live in the area would have to cross the very busy intersection of Highway 10 and Broadway/Buena Vista Drive every day during peak hours.  At the intersection, Highway 10 has six lanes with posted speeds of 80 km/h. The main transportation route through Dufferin is heavily travelled by transport (18 wheeler) trucks, gravel trucks, commuters and those pulling travel trailers. The parents noted the intersection is also compromised by the hilly topography in the area, making grading of the road variances difficult for drivers to see pedestrians.

“The school buses have been taken away for absolutely no reason,” Sue Snider, executive director of Community Safety Partners, formerly Safe Communities at the demonstration, said Friday. Students and parents walked across all four sides of the intersection holding signs with messages promoting student safety.The walk from the affected subdivisions to the school takes about 45 minutes.

“This has to do with safety not the distance the kids have to walk – you’re talking about crossing Highway 10,” said Ms. Snider, adding the students will need another transportation option to get to school and changing the bus route could mean additional costs to the municipality or the region.  “We believe these kids are not safe crossing this intersection.”

She added the purpose of the demonstration was to raise awareness of the danger the students will face if they have to walk to school. She said supporters would continue to appeal the decision until there is a final resolution.

“People think it’s a fait accompli, that it’s over but guess what people, it’s not done, it’s not over,” she noted.

“We just want to get our buses back so that our kids are safe,” said Ms. Kinsella. “We know it can be done. I’m a commuter and knowing she’s (her daughter) getting on the school bus gives me piece of mind.”

Her daughter Lindsay agreed.

“It’s not safe for students to be crossing this intersection every morning and afternoon,” she said, adding she took part in the demonstration to raise awareness. “I want as many people to know about this as possible. Our hope is that people see this is a big issue and that it gets solved.”Cathy Murphy, mother of two students – one in elementary school and the other at ODSS – took part in Friday’s demonstration. She said she is concerned about the safety of her children and all students.

Michela Savoia also participated in the demonstration. Although she doesn’t have any children at the school this year, they will be going there in a few years and she is concerned about their safety. She took video of the intersection a few weeks ago and often times two or three cars proceeded through the intersection after the traffic lights turned red.

“The thing I am most concerned about is judgment,” said Ms. Savoia. “You have impatient drivers who need to get to work or want to get home and you have young adults who are risk-takers. This is where you’re going to have a mixture that is an accident waiting to happen.”

Barb White, Orangeville’s trustee on the Upper Grand board, dropped by during the demonstration.“I am actively working with the parent community, listening to their views and making sure they are communicated effectively to the transportation consortium,” stated Ms. White. “I’m here to hear and help. Safety is number one.”

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