School bus cancellations hit WC Monday

WEST CARLETON – The shortage of bus drivers in the Ottawa area will affect students and parents at two West Carleton schools tomorrow (Sept. 14).

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) announced Friday (Sept. 11) bus routes in Ottawa would be cancelled due to the dire lack of qualified drivers.

They quoted the number 2,360 as students who would need to provide their own transportation to and from school. At the time OSTA general manager Vicky Kyriaco said they were making rural schools a priority.

“Areas where there is no OC Transpo service, we know that high school kids can’t get to school unless they’ve got yellow bus,” OSTA general manager Vicky Kyriaco released in a statement last week. “So, for sure, we were looking at how to preserve some of the yellow bus service out in rural areas.”

West Carleton Online reported on the shortage of drivers in the West Carleton area in mid-August, speaking with Voyago recruiter Lubna Haq.

“There is a shortage of school bus drivers in all of Ottawa and it has been challenging to hire drivers in the West Carleton area, especially Dunrobin,” she said on Aug. 17. “We are trying our best to keep the hiring process as easy as possible by doing virtual interviews and all onboarding documents are digital, uploaded online now.”

The shortage Kyriaco said, is due in part to an industry filled by drivers in their 60s, many who did not return due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That shortage will cancel three routes to two West Carleton schools tomorrow (Sept. 14).

Routes V188 and V52 serving West Carleton Secondary School will not run Monday. Route V07 serving Stonecrest Elementary School will not run Monday afternoon. Parents who have students attending St. Isidore Catholic School will also be affected. Route V188 will not run in the morning and route V52 is cancelled for the day.

“There have been multiple changes and cancellations to transportation services for OCDSB and OCSB students due to severe driver shortages,” the OSTA released in a statement. “OSTA continues to work with its operators and OC Transpo to find creative solutions to provide service to as many students as possible during these unprecedented circumstances.”

Some Grade 7 to 12 students have been transitioned to public transit, and some yellow bus service have been changed and/or cancelled.

“For cancelled routes, parents will need to find alternative transportation to get their children to school for the next few weeks until services stabilize,” the OSTA said.

Please review your child’s information on the Parent Portal and then check the posted list on the OSTA website to confirm the route’s status.

“The list will be updated daily with any morning cancellations,” the OSTA said. “Parents are asked to stay with their children at the bus stop until the bus arrives in case of delays or cancellations. We thank you for your continued patience during these challenging times.”

If you are interested in working as a school bus driver, you can apply for vacant positions here.