Who will drive the school buses?

Yesterday, on what would have been for many kids their second day back, 50 plus school bus routes were cancelled for the rest of the week in Clarington.

Why is this a surprise? The school bus industry has been struggling with a driver shortage for more than five years and the pandemic has only intensified the problem.

When it can take up to three months for a person to become qualified to operate a school bus – how is this going to change in the foreseeable future?

The school bus transportation system has been built on a model of recruiting retirees. The average age of a bus driver is 57, with some in their 70s. Many drivers have decided to remain off the job due to age-related health risks from COVID-19.

Regulations vary across provinces and school boards. Some governments such as Quebec have introduced limits on the number of students allowed on a bus. New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are allowing for barriers between the drivers and passengers. A similar precaution has not been guaranteed in Ontario, sparking concern among drivers.

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