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.