CORNWALL, Ontario – Janet Murray, General Manager and CEO of Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO), presented Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) trustees with the possibility of moving towards a zone approach for school bus cancellations. The presentation being a follow-up to a motion from trustees in September.
Janet Murray provided trustees with a report on the possibilities, challenges and considerations for a zone-based approach. In stark contrast to the previous district-wide approach that is currently in use, a zone-based model would allow the cancellation of buses in specific zones, opposed to a district wide cancellation, when a single zone is deemed unsafe for transport.
In Janet Murray’s presentation to the trustees, she went in depth into what must be considered if a zone-based cancellation model is to succeed, such as the student and driver safety, and the road maintenance schedules.
“We would really have to look at some of those elements that I have spoken to, and these would have to be considered in exploring the capability of zonal cancellation,” said Murray.
Murray stated in her presentation, the opportunities and risks that would come with the zonal model. The opportunity being the potential for more students to attend school on inclement weather days, may increase safety risks to students and drivers, as well as increasing potential for further constraints to driver coverage, and potential impacts/constraints to routing.
“I know there’s a lot of things that will need to be changed, but I represent an area that lost several school days in the last three or four years, not COVID-19 related, but in weather related, when there was absolutely no snow or freezing rain in our area,” said Don Cram, UCDSB Trustee for Ward One.
“My concern is that we are in an education business of having the kids in school, and that’s where they should be so I really think I would like to see some sort of zonal based cancellation system put in place,” said Cram.
Murray stated multiple times throughout the presentation, that the safety of drivers and students is the main focus when determining when buses run.
The STEO Board of Directors had agreed to perform a zonal cancellation model review by Jan. 31, 2022. If implemented, the new model would not come into effect until the 2022-2023 school year at the earliest.