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Utah parents angry after bus stop terminated week after school starts

Posted at 5:37 PM, Sep 07, 2023

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — Parents in a Saratoga Springs community are upset after their school bus stops were taken away just one week after kids returned to the classroom.

“I had open heart surgery, so I don't like to drive," said Tanya Lundgren, the mother of a student at Lake Mountain Middle School. "I've had complications and so the bus has been a blessing for our family.”

With five children, Lundgren says her family has always relied on the bus.

“The bus stop is less than a half of a mile. It's just over the hill, down our street up and then the bus stop is just around the corner. So it was pretty close,” she explained. 

Lundgren says at the start of the school year, her daughter was crammed onto a crowded bus. About a week into school, she and other parents of middle school students in the area were notified that a bus would no longer be an option, leaving them to struggle to come up with carpools or having their children walk the route on Redwood Road.

“I am really not at all comfortable with them doing that walk,” said parent Meghan Poll.

“I don't feel safe with my daughter walking along Redwood Road," added Lundgren. "It's an unforgiving street. There's a lot of accidents."

According to state law, elementary students are eligible for bus service if they live a mile-and-a-half from a school, and two miles for with middle schools students.

Poll agrees that her family's stop is less than two miles from the school, but claims her family actually lives outside the limit. Online maps show the stop is 1.9 miles to walk to school and two miles to drive.

Alpine School District officials confirms they use the distance from where someone lives versus the bus stop.

“Eligibility is not determined on where a stop is located. Eligibility is based on the residence, the middle part of the road from the residence to the school,” explained Kimberly Bird, Exec. Dir. of Communications for the district. 

Bird says the district uses a state ArcGIS network system to map out how far people live from a particular school and their eligibility for a bus. She added that in the Saratoga Springs neighborhood, they previously used district money to provide buses since there wasn’t a walking path, but that changed this year.

“Sometimes we provide ineligible riders, people who don't meet the state regulated distance from the school, an opportunity to have transportation when infrastructure is not available, but a sidewalk was put in,” she said.

Parents want to see screenshots of the measured distance used by the district, and even if they are ineligible, they want to see a bus return to their area.

“I did recently hear back from the transportation department saying that they're working on getting us like a screenshot of this map that shows that their distance calculation is less than two miles," said Poll, "but I have yet to see anything.”