The organization that oversees school bus service for tens of thousands of Ottawa students says it’s making progress in hiring school bus drivers this fall.
The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority says it has reduced the number of cancelled runs from 258 runs on Oct. 5 to 216 runs on Wednesday.
There are now 33 drivers in training to become school bus drivers.
A school bus shortage has frustrated parents, students and politicians this fall, with a lack of drivers forcing the cancellation of school bus service for thousands of students, primarily in Ottawa’s west end. Two weeks ago, chief administrative officer Vicky Kyriaco took a leave of absence and the OSTA appointed Cindy Owens as the interim operations manager.
“The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) Board of Directors acknowledges the frustration of parents and students impacted by the on-going school bus driver shortage in Ottawa. We apologize for the hardship caused by the continued cancellations,” the OSTA said in a statement on Thursday.
“Over the last two weeks, our team has worked tirelessly to address the shortage of school bus drivers across Ottawa.”
On Oct. 5, the OSTA said it was working to hire 71 new drivers to fill the driver shortage for school buses. It takes four-to-six weeks to train a driver once they are hired. The school bus authority has launched a DriveYellow recruitment campaign, looking to hire new bus drivers for this school year.
The authority has said it is looking at several solutions to the ongoing shortage of school bus drivers, including:
- OSTA is collaborating with the Ministry of Transportation to “expedite the applications” of school bus drivers and get drivers on the road “as soon as possible”
- OSTA will “amplify” the DriveYellow recruitment campaign to increase applications
- OSTA Board of Directors is repurposing withheld payments for cancelled routes to school bus providers to “fund other solutions that result in new, available drivers’ from other transportation operators”
- The OCDSB and OCSB is asking principals to look at “creative solutions” to get students on existing buses with space for students
- The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority is launching a new Parent and Community Subcommittee to address the bus driver shortage
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