As kids return to school, several students in Renfrew County may be arriving late and getting home even later because of their bus route.
A shortage of bus drivers in the region is affecting routes across the Ottawa Valley, with half of them in Arnprior.
The Renfrew County Joint Transportation Consortium (RCJTC) says there are 10 routes without bus drivers across the region: one in Barry's Bay, two in Deep River, two in Petawawa, and five in Arnprior.
To solve the problem, the consortium says in a statement that they plan to double up on routes.
"Our current solution to combat the driver shortage may include doubling up on routes, meaning some pick-up and drop-off delays for students would apply (arriving to school later, and being dropped-off later by up to an hour)," the consortium said in a statement on its website. " Parents/guardians can expect to receive a notification via email from the RCJTC later today if their child’s bus route will be affected. You can also log onto our parent portal at any point and time to find your child’s busing information. As well as viewing our web page or following us on Facebook or Twitter."
The RCJTC says they became aware of the problem within the last week as they prepared for the school year.
"The RCJTC and the local school bus operators share a common goal of ensuring that students at the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) and Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) arrive at school safely, on time and ready to learn," the consortium said. "This week as we geared up for the start of the school year it became apparent that we would not have enough drivers to meet our goal," the RCJTC said in its statement.
Sources with the bus line say a majority of their workforce is over the age of 60 and concerned about contracting COVID-19.
"We will continue to work with the local school bus operators as we strive to provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation for Renfrew County students to and from school."
You can see a list of the routes affected at the RCJTC's website.