Driver shortage causing school bus cancellations

A school bus driver shortage is causing some routes in Ottawa to be cancelled, leaving parents and students scrambling to find a way to get to and from school.

Wednesday was the first day of senior Kindergarten for Emily Brown’s son, C.J.

“He really wanted to get on the bus, make some new friends, meet some new kids from the neighbourhood,” she tells CTV News Ottawa.

But that yellow school bus was cancelled and with a 4-year-old faced with walking nearly four kilometres to school, Brown had to adapt.

“Well, now we need to scramble; we’re a one-vehicle family and luckily we have grandparents that we can rely on to get a second vehicle if we need to, but - change of plans.”

They aren’t alone; there are school bus driver shortages all over the region.

“There are cancellations because we don’t have enough drivers. That’s really what it boils down to,” says Ottawa Student Transportation Authority General Manager Vicky Kyriaco.

“We ended up having a planned system for just over 600 buses, and we are missing about 80 drivers; so, what we ended up doing as soon as we found out that 80 drivers weren’t going to be coming back, we started to re-plan the system.”

Kyrico says they’re recruiting drivers with the hopes of getting back to normal.

“What we’re looking for now is, ‘Okay, come and drive with us for a year, get your class B (licence)—it’s free training—put in your time, get your experience, and then that’s a stepping stone towards a different job later on.”

The OSTA has setup a recruitment page online.