Bus fees are going up at Edmonton Catholic Schools over the next three years.
Stuart Dryden / Postmedia, file
Three consecutive years of bus fee hikes are coming in September for families with students enrolled in Edmonton Catholic Schools.A report going to the Edmonton Catholic school board Tuesday says the school district plans to raise the cost of yellow bus and transit passes for all students, except kindergarteners, who ride the bus for free.The hikes come after district administrators warned that the current number of bus routes is unsustainable with provincial government funding that fails to increase as costs rise.“Without an increase to the revenue side of the balance sheet, the only way to balance the budget is to reduce the number of routes,” a district report cautioned in January.The district would not provide a spokesperson for an interview Monday before the board discusses the report. Documents posted online say costs are rising as more students choose to take the bus, families select alternative programs outside their neighbourhoods and the cost of busing contracts is anticipated to go up.Elementary yellow bus fees rising to $36.75 monthlyThe report said the monthly cost of bus passes will rise between $2 and $7.75 over three years. The planned increase each year is less than five per cent and would vary based on the service. Any school fee increase of more than five per cent needs approval by the provincial minister of education.The fee for elementary students to ride the yellow bus would rise to $36.75 by the fall of 2021 from $32 a month now while the fee for junior high students would increase to $61.50 a month from the current $54.It’s a substantial change to elementary bus fees, which have been fairly static for the last eight years. They were $30 a month from 2011 to 2015 and rose to $32 in 2015.Junior high and high school students riding Edmonton Transit now pay $54 for monthly passes. That will rise to $61.50 a month.Since the former NDP government regulated school fees in 2017, students who live more than 2.4 kilometres from their designated school have qualified for subsidized bus passes. Junior and senior high students who qualify for that subsidy will see their monthly transit pass rates rise to $20 from $18 in the Catholic district.The fee hikes follow a $2 increase in the cost of monthly transit passes for Edmonton Catholic junior and senior high students last fall.By 2021, the rising fees are expected to generate about $204,000 more annually for the district. This year, its total transportation budget is about $21 million.Edmonton Public Schools’ bus fees are also rising for the next three years after the public school board approved four years of fee hikes in email@example.com