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Ombudsman to release findings into Toronto school busing issues

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Aug 10th, 2017

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File photo of a school bus. CITYNEWS.

Ombudsman Paul Dubé launched the probe last September following complaints of chronic delays and disruptions at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

When the school year started last September, around 60 routes in Toronto were without drivers. The delays persisted through the first four weeks of the school year and affected more than 1,000 students.

Attridge Transportation, Wheelchair Accessible Transit Inc. and SHARP Bus Lines were are at the centre of the issue.

At the time of the announcement, the Ombudsman’s office said it had received 49 complaints related to this issue.

Dubé said the systemic investigation would examine what the boards knew about possible transportation problems, how they responded and communicated with parents and offer recommendations as to what can be done to prevent such problems in the future.

Last June, both the TDSB and Catholic school boards took a step towards better communication by launching a new online portal which enabled parents to access their children’s transportation information at torontoschoolbus.org

The school boards say all buses will be soon be equipped GPS and parents will receive email notifications for any bus cancellation or delays.

Unifor Local 4268, Canada’s largest drivers’ union, has blamed the driver shortage on the Ontario government, saying the province’s current “request for proposals” system for awarding school bus contracts leads to constant instability.

This is the first formal investigation of school boards since the Ombudsman’s mandate was expanded in 2015 to include oversight of all Ontario school boards. Since then, it has received more than 800 complaints.

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