Bus cancellation policies differ among districts

By Greg Higgins
January 16, 2018 - 2:00pm

Parents of students in North Battleford may be wondering why buses are cancelled during extreme cold warnings for public schools and not for catholic schools. But a simple difference in policy related to urban verus rural is the simple answer.

Over the last month, school buses for students in the Living Sky School Division have been cancelled multiple times, while it has been business in usual for those travelling on Light of Christ’s routes.

According to communications coordinator with Living Sky, Shannon Lessard, it is the division’s policy to cancel buses when the temperature and or wind-chill drops to minus 40C.

“Students waiting in minus 40 is dangerous and buses may not run as well in those extreme temperatures,” Lessard said. “If breakdowns do occur, it would take some time to get to our students and drivers in some of our rural locations.”

Lessard said the policy was created mostly due to routes in the rural areas, where Light of Christ doesn’t have that problem.

According to Jordan Kist, chief financial officer for Light of Christ, the division only has 10 routes, all of which are in North Battelford, and the company they have contracted has promised its buses can run in any temperature.

“They [bus contractor] have encouraged us to keep running bus routes whenever possible,” Kist said. “We rely heavily on their professional opinion and experience. They have significant experience in urban municipalities.”

Kist said the company always has two backup buses running to respond to any mechanical failure that might occur and since all the routes are in the city, it will only take minutes for a new bus to takeover.

Kist added in his five years on the job there has never been a route cancelled due to temperature or mechanical failure. He said it helps give parents a peace of mind as well.

“Decisions to cancel buses tend to be made quite early in the morning. Having our parents understand our buses will run all the time is something they’ve built into their schedule regardless of what the weather looks like that day. It is very reliable.”

Kist said students waiting outside too long for buses also isn’t a concern, as the drivers know their routes very well and might be a few minutes late at the most depending on traffic. He added drivers will go out of their way to stop in the line of sight of the family home so parents can see their kids get safely on the bus.

“If you talk to some of our parents you’ll find they are pretty confident with the arrival time of the bus. Some will even wait until the last minute to send their kids out. There is that assurance for parents.”  

 

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