Summit School District adds new bus route with stops in Blue River
Some kids in Blue River will have a new ride to school starting Monday, Oct. 11.
Summit School District was able to hire and train a new bus driver, adding a new route in Breckenridge with stops serving Blue River at the Quandary Road turnaround and at the intersection of Colorado Highway 9 and Blue River Road. The district will also have two new activity buses at the middle school starting Monday.
Summit School District Transportation Manager Andrea Meyer-Pemble said there are now a total of three buses serving the Breckenridge area: one goes to the Wellington neighborhood, one covers the Upper Blue area, and one covers southern Breckenridge and Blue River. The district was able to take 65 kids off the waitlist with the addition of the new route.
District spokesperson Andrea Ridder wrote in an email that bus stop locations were determined based on Colorado Department of Education safety guidelines, school board policies, geographic challenges and time constraints due to the continuing driver shortage.
Meyer-Pemble said she’s heard a mix of reactions from families who are happy about the new stops and families who are disappointed that they don’t have the stop they previously did. She said she doesn’t anticipate anything close to pre-COVID routes anytime soon.
Meyer-Pemble also said some Colorado Department of Education rules have changed in recent years, and while buses previously used to stop frequently on Highway 9, the district is now trying to limit this. She also said it isn’t a best practice for safety reasons to frequently stop on a two-lane highway with a 50 mph speed limit.
“By (Colorado Department of Education) regulations, the cars that we’re hindering from going, we have to literally pull over and let everybody else go before we can proceed on to our route,” Meyer-Pemble said. “So that takes time, and we don’t have the time because we have other students to pick up.”
Students were assigned to buses based on the waitlist the district had going, but Meyer-Pemble said she also had to move some kids around to make sure they were on the bus that made the most sense with the new routes. She said there are 13 middle and high school students who will be using the Blue River stops and 22 elementary students.
“I just really want the community to know that we are really trying our best to accommodate the Blue River area,” Meyer-Pemble said.
Meg Caldwell, who lives between Breckenridge and Blue River, said the new stops won’t be any help for her since the bus previously stoped right outside her neighborhood on Highway 9 to pick up her kids. While she is happy for the families in Blue River who will benefit, she said she feels like the district still hasn’t asked families enough specifics about what they need, and she’s concerned her kids won’t ever have a bus stop again.
“We always had a bus stop until the pandemic,” Caldwell said. “… We totally get that there’s a shortage. I’m so happy for Blue River because those people are certainly farther from town than we are.”
Clair Sullivan also said she is happy to see some service back in Blue River, but the new stops aren’t helpful for her family, either. She has one daughter who goes to Breckenridge Elementary and said the bus also used to stop right outside her neighborhood.
“I’m really glad that they restored service in any level to Blue River,” Sullivan said. “But for us … instead of driving to a bus stop, sitting there for a while waiting for the bus and then repeating that, it’s just quicker for me to drop her off myself.”
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