EDMONTON, Alberta — Edmonton Public Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools have agreed to work together to create the Edmonton Student Transportation Authority (ESTA), a separate legal entity that will deliver joint transportation services for both school districts.
“Our school districts have common transportation challenges,” said Sarah Hoffman, chair of Edmonton Public Schools’ board of trustees. “By working together, we will find efficiencies and build a better transportation system that students, families, both school districts and taxpayers will benefit from. We’ve looked carefully at this, done our due diligence through a feasibility study, and we’re looking forward to working with Edmonton Catholic Schools to make this a reality.”
“Edmonton Catholic Schools is pleased to be collaborating with Edmonton Public Schools on phase one of the transportation consortium,” said Cindy Olsen, board chair for Edmonton Catholic Schools. “By working together, we hope to reduce ride times for our students, increase efficiencies and lower costs for both school districts.”
The proposed ESTA is targeted for full implementation in the fall of 2016. Officials said it will be:
• Governed by a board of directors with equal representation from both school districts;
• A separate legal entity with an independent office location;
• Operated with 24 to 28 full-time equivalent employees; and
• Operated with a single service delivery model, harmonized from the current transportation policies of each of the boards.
The ESTA will improve efficiency, reduce ride times and reduce costs for both school districts in the neighborhood of $2.5 million annually, according to the school districts.
The creation of ESTA will involve three phases. Phase one, which will take about a year, includes finalizing the consortium structure and developing all required agreements.
Phase two, which will take about six months, will include operationalizing the consortium. This process involves transferring or seconding staff to ESTA, completing the integrated bus routes and contracting carriers. Phase three will mark full integration of the two districts’ transportation services.
Currently, transportation costs for both jurisdictions combine for total approximate annual expenditures of $55 million. Boards recover about a third of the total transportation costs through bus pass fees. Two-thirds of costs are covered by provincial grants.
Officials said that transportation demands are expected to increase as Edmonton grows. As an independent transportation service provider, the ESTA will be better suited to address the gap between available funding and growing transportation costs.
In addition, the ESTA will continue to support the ability of both boards to make independent programming and student accommodation decisions.