Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 20, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
6 LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, August 20, 1974 'Bus safety is like anti-pollution devices nice to have but it adds to the cost considerably' The peril of a ride to school By STEVE KRUEGER, Canadian Press Writer EDMONTON (CP) Each day in Alberta, children board the big yellow school bus that has become a symbol of the modern education of the North American child. Whether they travel through the urban areas of Edmonton and Calgary or through farmland around Okotoks or Hughenden, these children put their safety in the hands of the people who build, sell and purchase school buses. Although Alberta has one of the best accident records of any Canadian than .05 injury per are some people who say school buses just aren't safe enough. The Alberta Federation of Home and School Associations is one group that questions bus safety. In a report to the department of education a year ago. it called for im- proved safety standards for drivers and machines. A department official said the report was "more emotional than factual." Other individuals, NEXT EDITION OF "THE CHINOOK" Will appear in The Lethbridge Herald Tuesday, Sept. 3 Advertisers are reminded that the dead- line for advertisements is Wednesday, August 28th. The Lethbridge Herald including a spokesman for a bus manufacturer, said school buses are not as safe as commercial buses of similar size. The people" who run the trustees and department there is no real bus safety problem in Alberta. Hysteria Harold Gunderson, president of the Alberta School Trustees Association (ASTA) said: "There is some hysteria connected to reports about bus safety. "Thousands of children are transported by bus every day in Alberta and attention only centres on bus safety when a school bus is involved in some kind of accident with multiple deaths." During one recent demonstration of new buses by a manufacturer, representatives of the company outlined 20 major design changes they were forced to make because of new federal regulations, Mr Gunderson said. "I don't think most of the changes were necessary. They have caused a major increase in the price of school price the taxpayer must pay." He said "school bus safety is a little like anti- pollution devices on new nice to have from an intellectual point of view but they add to the cost considerably." Dr. Lowell Williams, executive director of the Specialists in all types of ENGINE REBUILDING CYLINDER BORING AND RESLEEVING CRANKSHAFT REGRINDING Ask about our Guarantee ENGINES WISCONSIN ENGINE Sales and Service Centre Custom Engine Parts Ltd. 1605 3rd Avenue South Phone 328-8181 ASTA, said few boards have come to the association with com- plaints about school bus safety. "While we don't have many complaints about safety, they are worried about making sure what they have is adequate and that the cost doesn't get out of hand." Dr. Williams said because the cost is getting out of hand, and there is some doubt coverage under most policies is adequate, the ASTA is joining with the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties to form the Ju- bilee Insurance Corp. Ltd. The new company would write blanket insurance policies for school buses and would absorb the cost of claims and premiums by spreading the cost over the entire province. Alberta school buses travel more than 36 million miles a year. The routes cover city streets, paved highways, gravel farm roads and private, farm roads. Forty-one property damage accidents involving school buses were reported in 1972, the last year for which pro- vincial figures are available. Not problem Education Minister Lou Hyndman agreed with ASTA officials that bus safety in the province "is not a major problem." "The accident figures are just a general record, not a specific one for Mr. Hyndman said. "It's im- possible to compare Alberta with other provinces because of differences in accident re- porting methods." He said some new bus safety regulations will be introduced at the fall session of the legislature. "We aren't bringing in the new regulations because of a current problem but to ensure the same safety standards that are applied to large buses are applied to eight-and 10- passenger units." Mr. Hyndman said bus manufacturers could make "an absolutely safe school bus" but "it would be a bus that no district in the prov- ince could afford to buy." He said school buses are designed "for utilitarian safety" and must be able to handle various ages and sizes of children for different types of transportation. City buses Mr. Hyndman said while the use of buses to bring children from rural schools to cities for education is declining, there is more use of buses inside cities. "We find that as families move out of the towntown core there is lots of school- room space available, while in the suburbs there "is an acute shortage of classroom space Attendance boundaries are just about a thing of the past as we move children all over town to wherever there is space for them." Because of the growth of urban school-bus use, it may become necessary to have two types of training for school bus for rural drivers and one for city drivers. "A rural driver has to worry about road conditions and level crossings, while the city driver has to worry about traffic jams and narrow said Mr. Hyndman. The department of high- ways will step up its program to train bus drivers and continue in- service training after drivers go to work, said the minister. Replaced Boards which own and operate school little more than half the buses in the province are board-owned are encouraged to replace school buses every eight years, said Mr. Hyndman. The province allows boards to depreciate one- eighth of the value of each bus annually until the board can afford to buy a new bus eight years later. Contractors, who provide about 45 per cent of the province's school buses, do not receive the depreciation allowance but their rates "are high enough so they can afford to buy new buses at the same time as school said Mr. Hyndman. School buses are examined by inspectors once a year and must be inspected by a licensed mechanic twice a year. Mr. Hyndman said if a bus does not meet specifications, the inspector usually gives the board or contractor one year to repair the bus or re- place it. "On rare occasions we have seized the licence plates on the said Mr. Hyndman. "We find that the one-year warning is usually sufficient." Mr. Hyndman discounted claims by at least one manufacturer who said school buses are inferior in safety to commercial buses. "It's true a Greyhound bus costs about 10 times as much as a school bus. but it's not all due to safety. A commercial bus has to compete for customers so is naturally quieter and more comfortable." 4-H Club reports The regular meeting of Barons-Noble 4-H Multi Club was held recently at Keho Park. The first plot tour started at Mclntosh's and ended at Park Lake with a picnic. The club hosted seven 4-H exchange students. Guests were Dianna Farnholz from Barrhead Young Homemakers; Bernice McGillis from the Riviere Qui Barre 4-H Beef Club; Helen Busenius from the Alcomdale Clothing Club; Margret Mensink from the Alcomdale Clothing Club; Bernice Kummer from the Barrhead Young Homemakers: Georget Thomas from the Calmar 4-H Beef Club; Alan Briggs from the Sturgeon Valley 4- H Dairy Club. Grassy Lake 4-H Beef Club met August 8. The Taber and district 4- H show and sale was held July 2 and 3 in Vauxhall. In the Grassy Club Jean Brewin won grand champion, Kerry Brewin reserve champion and Kevin Brewin the highest rate of gain in our club. The club wishes to thank all those who attended and purchased our calves. SWISS LONGHORN The longest Swiss alphorn. measuring 23 feet inches, was completed in 19B8.