N.S. regulator strips Stock Transportation of charter bus licences

The province's largest school bus company has lost its licence to run charters and is no longer allowed to carry passengers across any border after hearings showed the company violated safety rules and tried to cover it up.

Fate of company's Halifax hospital shuttle service uncertain

Stock Transportation has lost its licence to run charters and is no longer allowed to carry passengers across any border (Marta Iwanek/Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia's provincial regulator has stripped Stock Transportation of its charter bus licences and the company will only be able to carry passengers until the end of the month.

Company officials had asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) that it be allowed to complete all its bookings up until next fall, when they run out, but board member Dawna Ring turned down that request in light of the serious violations uncovered during a public hearing a year ago.

Stock was found to have breached the law at least eight times, including carrying hockey teams to games within Nova Scotia and out of province as far away as Boston. Some of those trips came after Stock was specifically warned it did not have a licence to carry out those charter operations. 

The UARB also ruled the company tried to force drivers to work beyond their legally mandated time restrictions and subsequently tried to cover up the violations. Stock blamed the troubles on regional manager Troy Phinney, who is no longer working for Stock.

Monday's ruling also forbids Stock buses from carrying passengers across the provincial border or on trips that will require drivers to be on duty longer than 14 hours. Drivers are on duty when they are behind the wheel and while they wait between legs of the same trip or on return journeys. 

Defence and health authority contracts

Ring has also terminated a service Stock carried out for the Department of National Defence. Although that contract ended Nov. 5, 2017, Stock had asked the UARB for permission to continue the service if DND requested it. 

"The gravity of Stock's breaches led the board to terminate those services," was the response.

The company continues to operate a shuttle service for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, but an extension on that contract — reached well after it expired and almost two weeks following the UARB's scathing November ruling — is due to end Jan. 31. 

Although Stock has asked to continue the service for another year, the board reserved the right to decide its fate Feb. 1.

Stock Transportation's school bus operations are unaffected by the ruling.