Hamilton's school bus service says driver shortage is causing delays on first day back to class

The bus service providing transportation for close to 30,000 Hamilton students going back to school reported close to 40 delays as of 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Hamilton Wentworth Student Transportation Services (HWSTS) revealed 44 delays as of 8 a.m. on Sept. 6, with one route, Bishop Tonnos, behind by as much as 40 minutes.

The delays come as the province faces an ongoing driver shortage that continues to plague several school districts across Ontario.

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On Friday, The HWSTS alerted parents and guardians there would be some delays on the 473 routes it covers but insisted schedules should be better than in past years.

Hamilton Wentworth District School Board chair Dawn Danko told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton that the service is about 25 drivers short as of Tuesday, not including spares available to cover.

She added there are also drivers getting used to new routes, which likely contributes to some delays.

“Students and families should be prepared for possible delays because we do have new drivers getting used to new routes and there’s always a bit of learning that happens there,” Danko said.

Last September, the HWSTS reported a similar number of delays, 44, as of 8 a.m., with up to five routes behind by up to 60 minutes.

The HWDSB board did previously opt to reduce the number of routes required to mitigate the “ongoing issue” of driver shortages, a move that included adjusting bell times via recommendations from a 2019 study.

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Changes were made at 37 public and 33 Catholic schools with daily start times at HWDSB elementary schools between 8:10 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and dismissals between 2:30 p.m. and 3:50 p.m., based on the study data.

Secondary schools are starting between 8 a.m and 9:30 a.m. and are dismissing students between 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

So families really just need to make sure that they’ve subscribed for updates, whether it is cancellations or delays,’ Danko said.

“We don’t expect any cancellations, which is really great news.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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