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Changes to Abbotsford school bus fees

A change in school bus fees starting in the 2013-14 school year means that some parents who currently receive the service for free will have to pay, while others will see a reduction in their costs.

The Abbotsford board of education voted at its meeting on Monday night to adopt a system that trustees said is more equitable for those using the service.

Currently, any student who lives outside the walk limits – 4 km for children from Kindergarten to Grade 5 and 4.8 km for Grades 6 to 12 – receives busing at no cost.

Students who use the system but live within the walk limit pay $300 per year or $500 per family.

The new system will charge $200 per student, or $400 per family, for anyone using the service, regardless of walk limits.

Students attending a “school of choice” – not one in their catchment area – currently pay $535 each or $755 per family. Those fees will drop to $350 and $700.

Special needs students will continue to receive school busing at no cost.

School district secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk said the decision to change the fees was made based on input from two public consultation meetings last year in which parents expressed a desire for an approach that was more fair.

Some parents said the walk limits were too far for their kids, and they were concerned that they had to pay for living within the limits while others were able to use the service for free.

Velestuk said the district expects to lose some riders because of the new approach, but should also gain many, generating about the same amount of revenue as it currently does.

Total revenue from bus fees is estimated to be $592,500 under the new approach.

Only one trustee, Preet Rai, voted against the changes.

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