‘Fluid numbers’ fuel fears of school bus driver woes
No shortages so far, but Friday update may change situation
As students and parents prepare for the start of the school year, the possibility of bus driver shortages so far doesn’t appear to be a problem for Hamilton and Burlington.
But the situation could change by the start of the school year.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board chair Todd White said there were no shortages reported as of Wednesday from the four companies providing school bus transportation to public and Catholic students in Hamilton.
“We have four operators (school bus companies) … the four were reporting no shortages as of the end of last week,” he said.
But White said that could change by Friday, when he will receive an update. If there are any regular driver retirements, they will be known by then, he added. “We do expect a drop-off.” Concern over shortages this September comes after Hamilton lacked 18 drivers for routes in the 2016/17 school year.
The problem was so bad in Toronto, it prompted Ontario’s ombudsman to look into the matter.
This year in Burlington, Halton Student Transportation Services are two drivers short so far.
But HTST general manager Karen Lacroix expects those positions to be filled by the time school starts.
Her biggest problem is in Oakville, where she is currently about 30 bus drivers short.
Lacroix hopes that number will improve since there are two groups of new drivers undergoing training.
One is expected to be licensed by the end of this week and the other by the first week of school.
“We don’t have a final number yet, ” Lacroix said. “The bus companies will be reporting up to this Friday. The numbers are fluid.”
Lacroix said the bus companies also have supply drivers, just as there are supply teachers, to help out.
“There may be some delays, but not a situation where the bus doesn’t show up or the route is cancelled,” she said.
In Hamilton and Burlington, parents can sign up to receive email notifications or check the student transportation websites for route delays during the first week of school.
See hamiltonschoolbus.ca or haltonbus.ca
We do expect a drop-off. TODD WHITE HAMILTON-WENTWORTH DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR