Hamilton schools to start rotating bus cancellations amid driver shortage and lengthy delays

Hamilton school boards will begin planned rotation of cancelled bus routes starting Sept. 28 as it struggles to overcome an unprecedented bus driver shortage.

Details of the 'extraordinary' step will be shared later this week

Last week, the boards said they were missing 59 drivers for mornings and 67 for afternoons. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Hamilton school boards will implement a rotation of cancelled bus routes o as it struggles to overcome an unprecedented bus driver shortage.

The schedule for the rotating cancellations will be released Sept. 28.

The rotation will try to alleviate delays from 17 cancelled bus routes.

The schedule will also include a regular rotation to address routes with delays longer than 60 minutes and high school runs with 30-minute delays to ensure students aren't late for class.

"The strategy will cancel routes on a prescheduled rotating basis, allowing families to make alternate transportation plans for their children during their route rotation," reads the release from Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation Services (HWSTS).

The cancellation schedule is being finalized and will be shared later this week. 

This follows a week full of daily delays. Most days have seen more than 100 delayed routes, many of them for an hour or more.

Between 15 and 18 bus routes were cancelled last week, which affected students at 11 Catholic schools and 17 public schools.

Last week, the boards said they were missing 59 drivers for mornings and 67 for afternoons.

Pat Daly, chairperson of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, told CBC on Wednesday students are showing up very late for class.

He said the HWSTS has been discussing multiple plans, none of which are favourable. He called the planned cancellations an "extraordinary" step by the school boards.

"Everyone is doing all they can but the bus driver shortage is so challenging, so that's a reality," he said.

"It's hard on staff but most especially inconvenient and disruptive for parents and students ... unfortunately we can't create, instantaneously, more bus drivers."

Alex Johnstone, chair of the public board, called it a "regrettable" situation. 

"We foresaw a situation like this happening, and even with our increased funding to transportation, we need the support of the provincial government. This is an issue that I have been, and continue to raise with the Ministry of Education since July," she said in the release.

Attention parents, students and teachers: We want to hear from you!

We hope you'll use this form to tell us about school conditions, how classes are going or whatever other pressing issues are on your mind this September in Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines and Burlington.


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