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  • Valli Vue

ASD Bussing Response

This year it was brought to the attention of the Board of Directors for Valli Vue Estates

that the Anchorage School District would not provide school bus services within

the Association. After contacting the appropriate personnel within the district, along

with an increase of communication from concerned parents, a drive through was

conducted by the ASD to determine whether bus service would be restored to the

community. Following the drive through, the Association received an email response

from Jim Anderson with the Anchorage School District, and a formal letter from Heather

Philip with transportation, both attached.


Jim Anderson of the ASD response on ASD Bussing within Valli Vue:

I apologize for the delay but unfortunately I was unable to get some specification

information that I was hoping for. In addition, there were multiple issues I had to focus on

during the week. I apologize as I know the HOA leadership was awaiting this email. I did,

however, let you know last week that the committee’s recommendation, and the District’s

decision, remained unchanged after the Safe Student Transportation Committee

conducted their drive-thru analysis early in November.

On November 2, 2023, the Safe Student Transportation Committee conducted a site

visit/tour in Valli Vue. One parent from the community joined the drive thru of the

community’s roads. The roads on November 2nd had no snow, so it certainly was not

representative of the Anchorage Bowl since the middle of that month. The driver of the

bus is a forty-year veteran bus driver. During the tour they stopped at multiple locations

to discuss tight/blind curves, where accidents had occurred in the year prior to stopping

those routes, where buses had slid off the roads, and the angle of roads that were too

steep to go down during winter months.

Many of the tight turns were unable to be traversed without crossing into the incoming

lane. Two pickup accidents in the year prior to stopping this route occurred when the bus

was hit by a truck while going around the tight turns. I’m providing some background

information that clarifies our bus transportation issues:

• The average pickup truck weighs close to 6,000 lbs. The average 40’ school bus

weighs between 35,000 – 45,000 lbs. A bus, even with chains, can’t safely drive

up or down a steep road with the same confidence as a 4x4 truck.

• The turning radius for a car vs. a truck is far less, which is why you and your

neighbors seem to have no issues driving around tight turns without getting

accidents in your neighborhood.

ASD is the only government organization in ASD that has loco parentis legal obligations

and liability for students, from the time we pick them up until the time they are released

each day. The HOA, the Mayor and/or Assembly, and the Governor and/or legislature, do

not have this legal responsibility. In fact, no other government agency can relieve ASD of

our loco parentis responsibility. For this reason we make many decisions each year in the

best interests of maximizing safety for our students while reducing liability in areas of high


The decision at the beginning of this year, to change the bus stops in your area, were not

made for convenience, but due to a history of challenges in the recent past. These


The decision to remove interior stops within Valli Vue, implemented last winter, was due

to multiple factors including the following:

1. Steep grades of roads in the Valli Vue area with deep ditches and no

recovery area for a bus that loses traction due to weather conditions. Several

busses were pulled out of the trees last winter, prior to changing the bus stops.

2. Narrow roads make it difficult for a bus to travel on, as a bus is wider than

most passenger vehicles.

3. Multiple blind curves that cause difficulty to see adequate distance while


4. Stops located on main roads are less than 1.5 mile from residences. Across

the Anchorage Bowl, by state statute, 1.5 miles is the max walking distance

unless a major road must be crossed by pedestrians.

5. This area has a history of multiple buses stuck throughout the winter months.

These accidents were caused by passenger vehicles hitting our buses, or the

bus slid into a fixed object while driving.

If the state figures out how to provide adequate transportation funding, we can certainly

look at procuring 20’ buses. This would change the levels of risk that we have with 40’

buses. We have not had an increase in state transportation funding since the first day of

school in August, 2015. We expect a $5.5 million deficit this year in transportation, and

are unable to look at procuring large numbers of 20’ buses, plus hiring additional drivers,

for the many communities in the Anchorage Bowl in which we are unable to provide

transportation services. At this time Reliant has two 20’ buses, with one of them fully


At this time we have thoroughly driven the route with experienced transportation

personnel, we’re unable to mitigate risks, and are unable to change the bus stops. I will

very much reconsider these routes if we can find new ways to mitigate these known risks.

Parents always have had the ability to drive students to bus stops or schools, if they’re

concerned about the students walking alone, and I’ve seen it all over the city for as long

as I can remember.


Anchorage School District

Transportation Services

Anchorage, Alaska

December 14, 2023

On November 2, 2023, the Safe Student Transportation Committee conducted a site visit in Valli

Vue at the request of the Valli Vue Community Board to add stops within the neighborhood.

At 8:15am the SSTC and invited parent(s) left in a school bus to drive the requested route areas.

The SSTC were able to listen to the parent concerns while experiencing first-hand the safety

reasons that transportation listed as why the buses have been pulled from the interior Valli Vue

area. The driver of the bus, a forty-year veteran, gave excellent feedback as the person navigation the streets. The streets are very narrow, and the winding nature of the roads make for blind corners which requires the bus to use the oncoming traffic lane when taking these curves. This is a situation the was the cause of a head-on collision on Lone Tree. The grade of the streets is significant and can be difficult for drivers to navigate in the winter months. These steep grades can be dangerous when a bus loses traction as all the weight is in the front pushing the bus forward down the hill.

On November 7, 2023, the SSTC discussed the bus experience, the community concerns, and

visual photos provided by a parent from Valli Vue. The final decision from the Safe Student

Transportation Committee made on December 14, 2023, would not place bus stop locations

within the Valli Vue Community for the safety of the students on the bus and the driver who

must navigate the area.


Heather Philp

Senior Director, Transportation Services

Cc: Jim Anderson


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