The native public faculty board is reaching out to the province to expedite the certification of recent bus drivers in an effort to deal with ongoing shortages.
“That is essentially the most difficult 12 months I’ve ever confronted,” mentioned Joel Sloggett. Scholar Transportation Providers of Central Ontario (STSCO) CAO throughout the Kawartha Pine Ridge District Faculty Board’s current common assembly. “It’s a new actuality that we’re coping with.”
Sloggett termed the mixture of challenges, together with a considerably increased variety of college students than final September, “an ideal storm” buffeting an already soggy system making an attempt to handle a province-wide driver scarcity on high of the standard points equivalent to dad and mom in search of out-of-boundary transportation.
“It’s all put much more stress on a system that’s already struggling,” mentioned Sloggett noting Northumberland and Clarington are being hit the toughest with some households experiencing a second 12 months with out transportation for his or her kids.
Sloggett mentioned STSCO is doing its finest to work with present sources however has acquired near 1,500 service requests since August.
“We normally get to see some gentle on the finish of the tunnel by the top of September however [the COVID-19] pandemic has made that extraordinarily troublesome,” added Sloggett. “That is one thing we’re going to be grappling with all through the college 12 months and probably into the following one as nicely.”
At current, STSCO – which operates 570 buses in Northumberland, Peterborough and Clarington, lots of them protecting two faculty routes, servicing 24,000 riders – is brief 21 drivers. Sloggett additionally famous the system wants about 50 “spare drivers” to cowl sickness, faculty charters and scholar journeys in an effort to “get us again to the place we had been in 2019.”
Nevertheless, notes Sloggett, even when there was a sudden inflow of candidates, there are important delays within the approval course of on the provincial stage and certified people nonetheless face a month of coaching.
The varsity board is dedicated to serving to mitigate the problem.
In the course of the assembly, trustees handed a movement to ship a letter petitioning the Ministry of Schooling and Ministry of Transportation to expedite the certification course of for brand spanking new bus drivers and help with helps to handle ongoing bus driver shortages regionally and throughout the province.
The board can be different choices equivalent to adjusting bell instances.
As nicely, Sloggett is hoping to debate choices with Peterborough Transit. Passes had been offered to college students throughout the peak of the pandemic and lots of college students proceed to make use of the service, albeit, protecting the price themselves.