Parents from St. Peter The Apostle School in Parry Sound say they received notice regarding a new busing schedule due to a shortage of drivers.
Parents were notified of the new schedule on Saturday morning that will keep some students on board the buses for hours and parents are at their breaking point.
Students will have to wake up as early as 5:30 a.m., to catch the bus.
One parent told Muskoka411 her child will be getting picked up at 7:04 a.m., with school starting at 8:50 a.m., and with school ending at 3 p.m., the child will not get home until 4:57 p.m.,
The new bus schedule also means more students on each bus and will make for an extra long day for students and that has parents up in arms.
Haleigh Roberts is a parent who received the new schedule and has a child who is directly affected.
“The new wait times that they are implementing on these children is absolutely unacceptable”. Roberts said “My daughter is three years old, just started her first year of kindergarten and is now being told she has to stay on the bus for upwards of two hours to get to and from school when it was normally a 20 minute bus ride”.
The school board responsible issue a letter to parents on Saturday morning making recommendations.
The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board Released The Following Statement:
As much as we have worked to hire new drivers and find ways to mitigate the bussing delays in Muskoka and Parry Sound, many families continue to experience unacceptable wait times. Some of the solutions that have been considered by the SMCDSB, transportation consortium and/or bus operator are:
- Request the Ministry of Education to work with the Ministry of Transportation to expedite licencing approvals
- Assist the bus operator with recruitment efforts by posting jobs through the SMCDSB communications networks
- Liaise with our childcare partners in Bracebridge and Huntsville to explore the possibility of increasing before and after care programs
- Consolidate routes
- Contract charter busses and/or taxi services
- Provide additional incentives for drivers in the Muskoka/Parry Sound region
- Explore the possibility of utilizing regional transit routes
- Partner with other operators to ease current pressures
- Improve the timeliness for posting delay information
- Improve the flow of communication
This is not an exhaustive list and we know that some of these items cannot feasibly be implemented. However, we do hope that it provides you with some additional detail about the work that is being done to address the ongoing issues.
At this point, we have collaborated with our school principals and the consortium and have confirmed an interim consolidated plan that provides confirmed and consistent pick-up and drop-off times. These new bus routes and bus stop times will be communicated directly to you this weekend. Please monitor your email this weekend to ensure that you receive the updated times and stops.
Please know that we are continuing to make every effort to restore service to acceptable levels in Muskoka and Parry Sound. We will continue to provide you ongoing communication as this busing situation improves.
Controller of Planning, Facilities & Student Transportation Services