Bus safety for rural areas in Renfrew County (Ontario)

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I have 2 children, aged 11 and 10. We recently moved back to Renfrew County, the area that I grew up in. My children transferred to Our Lady of Fatima school in Renfrew, Ontario and were LOVING the small community life and the new friends and activities that they were now involved in.

My children were set up to take the school bus, with services offered by the Renfrew County Joint Transportation Consortium based out of Pembroke, Ontario. I was shocked to see that my children were expected to walk down our road, Bennet Lafont, and cross Storyland Road (which is a secondary highway) in order to catch the bus. What I was appalled to find out in my first week here is that there are two other families further down the road that have been fighting for two years to have this changed! Their children are less than seven years old!

When I met my next door neighbour, I found out that their 5 year old daughter was expected to do the same; and so they had to arrange their work schedules to drop off and pick up at school every day! They were not risking the safety of their child.

Thinking that this was an honest mistake, I escalated my concern to the Renfrew County Joint Transportation Consortium and was told that the "guidelines" state that my children are exected to walk up to 2.5 kilometres to catch the bus!

Let's review the facts - no opinions:

  • The children are expected to walk in a wooded area.
  • The road has no sidewalks, leaving my kids exposed to oncoming and passing traffic.
  • Bennet Lafont Road intersects at Storyland right after the off ramp from Highway 17. Cars come around the bend at high speeds.
  • Storyland Rd has NO sidewalks, and is a sub highway.
  • Depending on daylight-saving time, either one of the pickup and drop off are in the dark.
  • There are smaller buses that pass our road as we are standing waiting for the bus!

The bus service in the Renfrew County need to be revised to meet that of the modern ages! Most families in today's world need two incomes in order to survive. These incomes work to support the community; local businesses, infrastructure, and ultimately employ those who work for the townships and locally funded programs.

What happens when there are no services available to families that allow them to report to work? We see houses going up for sale, local businesses shutting down; and eventually our communities becoming smaller and smaller. 

What good is "public skating" at the local rink; if we cannot afford to buy our kids skates?

How good is a new "recycling program" if you cannot afford to buy food?

The worst part is that there are no affiliated programs that can be offered to families in the absence of a route change. I have contacted local Taxi's, bus lines an there are no options available to me.

I am faced with the hard decision to either sell my home and move back to the city; or quit my job. As a single mom; this should not be a decision that I need to make. As a taxpayer; i should feel that the programs offered in my community support me - to be able to support them.

I have contacted John Yakabuski our local MP, however he has not responded.

I am looking for you - my neighbors to help me spread the word that this is not acceptable!!!

The solution : Rural areas NEED to have door to door service for school bus pickup. The local news is promoting seat belts now on buses - but what about the safety of them waiting at stops? Our children are worth more then an inconvenience for a bus driver.