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Parents worry about changes to yellow school bus service

Several parents are up in arms that proposed changes to school bell times by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) would mean their children can no longer take the bus.

OSTA wants to make the changes to make their bus service more efficient, in a move expected to save some $3-million, but some parents have raised concerns their kids will have to walk to school along roads like Meadowlands Drive.

OSTA has assessed 180 school sites for potential walking hazards, like busy thoroughfares, poor signals and crosswalks.

Vicky Kyriaco, the general manager and CEO of OSTA said they've found that certain roads, like Meadowlands Drive are now safer than they used to be.

"There are some historical hazards that are being removed and those hazards may have been placed there a long, long time ago because of certain conditions that existed at that time that don't exist anymore," said Kyriaco. "For instance, it may have been a new development with construction and the construction is gone, it's done. That community is now a mature community. It has the sidewalks and infrastructure that makes walking safe."

Kyriaco added their old information about the hazards on each street is not

"There are some hazards where we wish we knew or understood why they were placed there and because some of the maps are so old and they're pre-amalgamation time, we just don't have the history behind why those boundaries were drawn the way that they were," she said."

She said in terms of Meadowlands, some kids walk to school while others bus, and they've determined it's safe for all students to walk.

"When we do our hazard assessment on that particular road, it garners very few points," said Kyriaco. "In terms of the traffic counts itself, it's very low traffic there, there are signalized intersections. There's even a pedestrian crosswalk right in front of one of the schools and so when we start looking at Meadowlands in the context of other roads in the city that are being used and crossed by students from all different school communities, it simply doesn't meet the warrant for busing."

OSTA is holding a total of 17 public consultations on the changes and Kyriaco says now is the time for parents to let them know their concerns. Two of the consultations have already taken place.

Changes would not take place until the fall of 2015.

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