Nova Scotia

'This is ridiculous': Victoria County parent fed up with short-staffed school bus service

Some parents in Victoria County are frustrated with the school bus service because of temporary changes made to routes after a bus driver retired in December.

'They should have had somebody lined up long before this most recent retirement happened [in December]'

Some students in Victoria County, N.S., have had to walk extra distances, sometimes in freezing temperatures, because the buses no longer have time to make all of their usual stops. (CBC News)

Some parents in Victoria County, N.S., are frustrated with the school bus service because of temporary changes made to routes since a bus driver retired in December.

Some kids have had to walk longer distances because the buses no longer have time to make all of their usual stops.

"It's dragged on too long," said Ariel Dixon, a mother of two school-age kids who is nine months pregnant and on bed rest.

"They should have had somebody lined up long before this most recent retirement happened, long before. This is ridiculous, especially for the wintertime."

There are six bus runs. But because there aren't enough drivers to cover all of the routes, the Cape Breton Victoria Regional Centre for Education consolidated the runs to five, said spokesperson Heather Calder.

The new system helps "to ensure all children have access to transportation to and from school," Calder said in an email.

For Dixon, this means her kids have to walk to and from the bottom of their dirt road to get picked up and dropped off.

She said a construction company operates out of a location on the same road.

"There's heavy machinery going up and down our road all the time … and I worry a lot about, you know, my kids getting seriously hurt," she said. "And there's also several other families on my road that have small kids."

Questions about timing

The long wait to replace the driver has also attracted the attention of the Municipality of Victoria County.

"We started [this process] in December and now it's March ... it concerns us that if they knew they would be short some bus drivers, why didn't they do it earlier?" said District 2 Coun. Perla MacLeod.

"Because now they do it, right now, in the winter months when the kids, you know, they have to walk in the snow."

On Feb. 14, council contacted the centre for education and was told one driver should be ready within two to three weeks, with three others in training for four to six weeks.

Dixon said she was told over a month that somebody was close to being hired and doesn't have faith in what the centre is telling her.

Calder said in the email the centre for education is in the process of hiring and training people for positions in the region.

"The individuals are at varying stages of the hiring and training process, which is dependant on receipt of required paperwork, approval of background checks, and successful completion of our training and licensing program in conjunction with Access NS," said Calder.

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