Ottawa

Driver shortage forces school bus delays, cancellations

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) is warning parents it still doesn't have enough drivers to transport all students returning to school this fall.

Student transportation authority warning parents to come up with other plans

Parents whose children attend Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Ottawa Catholic School Board schools are being warned to come up with alternative arrangements to get their kids to class, at least until the school bus situation stabilizes. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) is warning parents it still doesn't have enough drivers to transport all students returning to school this fall.

Some students in grades 7-12 will have to take public transit, and some school buses will be delayed or cancelled, according to a statement issued by OSTA Wednesday afternoon.

Many parents will likely need to find alternative transportation to get their children to school for the next few weeks until services stabilize.- OSTA statement

OSTA, which provides transportation to students with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board, had planned to launch school bus service starting Sept. 14, the day public elementary and Catholic high school students return to class. 

Vicky Kyriaco, OSTA's general manager, blamed any delays or cancellations on a severe shortage of drivers.

A changing labour market has made it difficult to recruit drivers, she said, and COVID-19 hasn't helped. Even with fewer passengers, OSTA is unable to secure enough drivers for all its students. 

'Challenging times'

"It's definitely challenging times," she said. "We're experiencing a driver shortage, and so there's a lot of route redesigning and extra coverage that's required."

In its statement, OSTA said it's working with its existing drivers and OC Transpo to find "creative solutions" to provide bus service "to as many students as possible during these unprecedented circumstances."

But it warned "many parents will likely need to find alternative transportation to get their children to school for the next few weeks until services stabilize."

OSTA said it expects to release more information Friday, including a list of affected routes and schools. Parents can check the Parent Portal and OSTA's website for their children's latest bus information.

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