Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 16, 2014

Busing talk to continue

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lockport City Schools will review its transportation polices and bus routes, officials said Wednesday while kids on Young Road will continue to wait for the bus near the Sunset Drive intersection.

Board of Education members met with Ridge Road Express to discuss a recent busing change for students on Young. Last month, buses began picking up and dropping off Young Road students at a bus stop on the corner where the road meets Sunset Drive, instead of letting them on and off in their own driveways.

Parents raised safety concerns to the Board of Education at the Dec. 11 meeting, such as the lack of sidewalks or a shoulder on Sunset for the students to stand on. Traffic is fairly heavy at the intersection, which is near both Niagara Hospice and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.

Tom Weeks of Ridge Road said kids shouldn’t be standing anywhere on Sunset Drive, but rather on Young. According to state law, however, the district cannot tell kids where they should stand at a bus stop.

The door-to-door pickup began on Young about 25 years ago when traffic on Sunset was even heavier. That was a result of the larger workforce at the former Harrison Radiator – now General Motors Components Holdings – plant on Upper Mountain Road, Weeks said.

“There were days if the bus had to pull over on Sunset to let cars go by, they would have trouble getting back onto the road,” Weeks said. “The argument for going in there (down Young) was because there was a turnaround for plows.”

Young Road is a dead-end street in the Town of Lockport, just north of Leete Road and jots out east of Sunset Drive. A total of four daily buses pick up students of all ages on Young.

Trustee Diane Phelps said the board’s policy committee is reviewing the transportation policy. She wondered if creating an exemption allowing kids to wait for the bus in a driveway instead of a particular intersection.

Trustee Thomas Fiegl said he knew of three other intersections in a similar situation like Young Road. An exemption would cause an issue for nearby property owners.

“How do you create it? Are you going to tell the homeowner they have to let kids stand in their driveway?” Fiegl asked.

District officials have said according to New York State Department of Education, “district decisions (about transporting students) must be based on criteria established by the school board” and “must be applied to all district students in like circumstances.” For nonpublic school transportation, districts must treat all students in like circumstances equally, according to the state.

The complaint came from a parent who thought the Young Road situation violated that policy, since door-to-door service is not offered to students on other similar streets. Young Road parents have contended that all streets cannot be treated the same, as their situations aren’t the same.

Weeks said drivers would be informed to not drive by the bus stop, just so they won’t miss seeing any kids who are standing farther back from the intersection.

Board President John Linderman said the district’s transportation program will be reviewed.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.