An increase in student transportation funding across the province could help families save money.  

The province has announced that school authorities across Alberta will be receiving an additional $414 million to help support school transportation. 

That money will be provided over the course of three years starting with $93.5 million in 2023-24, $160 million in 2024-25, and $160 million in 2025-26. 

"More than 300,000 students and their families rely on student transportation services every school day, and we take that responsibility seriously," said Adriana LaGrange, Alberta's minister of education. 

"With the changes we are making and our increased investment through Budget 2023, the student transportation system will be safer for students, more affordable for families, and provide enhanced funding for our school authority partners.”

This is one of the areas that Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) highlighted as important in their initial reaction to the 2023 budget

"It’s been a long-standing practice of the EIPS board of trustees to provide equitable, accessible and affordable transportation for school families," said Trina Boymook, the EIPS board chair. 

"Alberta Education’s new investments in student transportation reflect the needs flagged by school divisions in recent years and mean EIPS will be able to further enhance the bus service we offer."

This increased funding will allow more students to be eligible for provincially funded bus service. 

Under the current framework, students must live at least 2.4 kilometres from their school to be eligible for government-funded bus service.

That distance will now be reduced to one kilometre for grades 1 to 6 students and two kilometres for grades 7 to 12 students. 

EIPS transports about 9,000 students to and from school every day by bus. This includes students that are eligible under the current system and students who are not eligible but receive enhanced service for an extra fee. 

"Many of these families that will now be eligible, we have been providing service to them already," said Boymook. "We anticipate we will have further families that will choose the school bus as their mode of transportation for their kids to get to and from school because this will become a more affordable choice." 

The increased funding will also go toward providing new school bus routes, getting new drivers trained, and helping to address high fuel costs.