Peel schools plagued by bus driver shortage

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Hundreds of school children are getting to school late every now and again in Peel Region and this is frustrating parents, kids and school trustees as well as school administrators that have to deal with irate parents.

But blame could be left at the doorstep of the province.

The school board believes there needs to be strong lobbying at Queen’s Park for more transportation funding.

The report states that the shortages have left 16 routes with no permanent driver; another 53 routes are being covered by spare drivers because the regular driver is away on medical or long-term leave.

That’s resulted in daily delays of up to an hour on some routes, the report states.

Meanwhile a ministry spokesperson said it’s aware of the problems and is working to correct them, earmarking $60-million over the next two years to help recruit and retain new drivers.

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But the problem has to do with two major factors—low pay and abuse.

The timings don’t suit many who wouldn’t mind the side income and many school bus drivers complain about abusive students who make their lives miserable. This has led to many of them quitting for their own sanity.

The four transportation companies that are contracted by the board continued to recruit new drivers to offset a wave of resignations. But despite those efforts, “through October and early December, the reported bus delays continued to increase,” the report says.

The Peel board includes 65,000 students, and depends on a school bus fleet that’s about 1,500 strong, the report notes. And while most of the region’s 2,500 bus runs are on time, scores of them are often delayed.

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The report also maintains that all school boards in the GTA, not just Peel, are experienced delays brought on by driver shortages.

The school bus issue is something that disrupts the lives of parents as well as students. When delays occur in winter months, that can really become a health issue. For many parents, it is the added headache of being late for work. Some parents are deciding to opt for other means of transportation, a friend’s car or Uber. – CINEWS

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