|OSBA Letter to New Minister of Education
The following letter was sent by OSBA on behalf of all members June 24, 2016 to the new Minister of Education, the Hon. Mitzie Hunter:
Dear Minister Hunter:
On behalf of the Board of Directors and our member companies, I write to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister of Education.
In the 65 years of the history of the Ontario School Bus Association, we have worked closely with your Ministry and the Ministry of Transportation to ensure Ontario has the safest student transportation system. Every school day, over 800,000 students ride the familiar yellow and black bus to and from school. Our members are proud of the safety record but we are always vigilant to ensure the safest form of transport for our children.
There are a number of important school bus files with you and your Ministry and let me take a moment to describe and the action required by your Ministry.
Earlier this year, Minister Sandals released the government commissioned Report by retired Justice Colin Campbell titled Student Transportation Competitive Procurement Review.
Since then, the Ministry, OSBA, representatives of school board transportation consortia and ISBOA have worked constructively on implementing recommendations considered as Phase 1 of the Report.
That work is now complete. We must continue work on Phase 2 and 3. We urge you to recommit to Minister Sandals pledge in her letter to me dated April 22, 2016 to announce details and structure of Phase 2 in September to be followed by Phase 3.
The other and perhaps the most important file impacting the student transportation sector is the urgent need to review student transportation funding. Premier Wynne made the commitment to do so in her letter to me dated June 2, 2014. That commitment has not been followed up on.
While minimal annual increases have been announced over the years, they have not kept pace with real costs of delivering the service in 2016. Minister Sandals also committed in her April 22, 2016 letter to a review of the transportation benchmarks, first established in a government commissioned Report in
2007. That letter promised details on revisiting the current funding formula with an imminent announcement. Minister, our members look forward to hearing details in the very near future.
Again, congratulations on your appointment and we look forward to a continued close working relationship with you and your officials. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these important files in more detail.
|Intercity Bus Modernization Proposal - Does it Affect School Bus Companies?
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is proposing a plan to reform the intercity bus regulatory regime. This plan impacts all facets of the current regulatory regime, including any operator providing home to school service or school charter service under the authority of a public vehicle school (PVS) operating licence. The focus of the proposed plan is on passenger travel between communities, not passenger services provided within a community. The plan suggests opportunities for innovative solutions to meet the needs of Ontarians, while ensuring that safety and insurance remain the highest priority.
The intercity bus industry plays a critical role in Ontario's transportation system, whether it's a senior citizen taking the bus to a doctor's appointment, an individual visiting family, or a hockey team travelling to an away game. However, the transportation landscape in Ontario is evolving. New technologies, as well as an aging and increasingly urban population, have changed the way people travel and access important services. The regulations governing the intercity bus industry need to keep pace with the changing needs of the travelling public and ensure that buses remain a viable means of transportation for Ontarians. As part of Ontario's commitment to facilitate new and innovative choices for intercity passenger travel, over the next few months the Ministry of Transportation will be consulting with industry, municipalities, and the general public to discuss a potential path forward. This includes a connection to a broader government provincial approach towards the “sharing economy” e.g. Uber and AirBnB.
To view a general description, purpose and public consultation information regarding the proposed plan, please click on the following link: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTI4ODg0&statusId=MTk0ODk1
To view the actual proposed plan/discussion paper, click on the following link: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/transit/intercity-bus-proposal.shtml
This proposed plan/discussion paper serves as the basis of the MTO’s consultation. It highlights the current challenges facing the intercity bus industry and how the province proposes to address these challenges through regulatory reform. Towards the end of the proposed plan/discussion paper, some key questions are asked and comments are welcome to be submitted at the above link.
The proposed plan/discussion paper has been posted for a 60 day public review and comment period starting June 23, 2016. If you have any questions, or would like to submit your comments, please do so by August 22, 2016 to the contact person listed below or go to the following link: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/searchComment.do?actionType=add¬iceId=MTI4ODg0&statusId=MTk0ODk1¬iceHeaderIdString=MTI4ODY0
OSBA members are welcome to attend any of the consultation sessions. If you are interested in a session near you, please RSVP by selecting this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intercommunity-bus-modernization-connecting-ontario-communities-registration-26279274016 .
For more information, contact: Silvia Ciobotaru, Policy Advisor, Ministry of Transportation, Policy and Planning Division, Transportation Policy Branch, Passenger Transportation Office, 777 Bay Street, Suite 3000, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2J8, Phone: (416) 585-7224, Fax: (416) 585-7204, Email: email@example.com
|Update - OSBA Safety and Legislative Services
As some of you may already be aware, OSBA’s Safety and Legislative Consultant Dave Carroll retired as of June 30, 2016. After providing almost 10 years of exceptional consultation and service to OSBA members and the school bus industry, we are very sad to see Dave go but send him off with heartfelt wishes for a wonderful retirement with his lovely wife, daughters and grandchildren.
OSBA will continue to provide members with the same safety/regulatory information and consultative service and are in the process of hiring a new contractor to replace Dave effective September 1, 2016.
In the meantime, if you have any safety, legislative or other questions, please do not hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to Michele O'Bright, OSBA Association Director at email@example.com. We would be delighted to be of assistance.
|Small and Smart Strategies For Attracting, Retaining Valued Drivers
Article By: School Transportation News (Various U.S. Cities)
Article Date: June 27, 2016
Feeling the pinch of an epic school bus driver shortage? The evidence takes form in cancelled routes, bus delays, service disruptions and angst among all those depending on rides. Consider what three federal agencies recently concluded in an alarming joint report, entitled, 'Strengthening Skills: Training and Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry.' More than 330,000 school bus driver openings are forecasted over the next seven years. That’s well above the need for mass transit, taxis and limousines.
Why is this? High expectations with little return. Drivers face increasing obstacles for training and background checks from police and child welfare groups as well as low compensation and low hour split shifts.
“Drivers are required to manage the equivalent of two classrooms in the morning and afternoon, while also trying to keep an eye on all the other drivers and pedestrians. This is a pretty substantial burden for something like $13 to $25 per hour,” said Tim Ammon, owner of School Bus Consultants, LLC.
However, transportation leaders have some winning strategies to fill the driver seats.
Dancing air puppets, strobe lights and big arrow signs point to the Driver Job Fair every Thursday at the Humble Intermediate School District outside of Houston. This is the entry point of an aggressive driver academy that’s keeping the stable full.
“We are the lowest paying district around, but we don’t have a shortage,” said Assistant Transportation Director Mark Swackhamer, who helped launch the program after brutal days when drivers called in sick.
On a bi-weekly basis, transportation supervisors work with a fresh group of driver applicants who are attracted by paid classroom and behind-the-wheel training. Successful candidates earn a route, a raise and a senior staff mentor who gives day-to-day guidance. Now the district-run transportation department has filled all 172 driver positions for its 145 routes.
Meanwhile, the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona enjoys a driver surplus due to super networking. Seven bus drivers are paid to visit community groups weekly and encourage people to apply for positions. They raise awareness everywhere from the local unemployment office to the nearby Davis Monthan Air Base.
“We were surprised how it really pays off. We constantly network, and do a good job of selling the job,” said Paul Larson, transportation director for TUSD.
Since October, the district has had a consistent pipeline of 40 to 55 candidates who work as onboard monitors during the paid training period. The district went from 265 certified bus drivers to 290 to cover 251 routes for 18,000 students eligible to ride.
Sweet Payment Packages & Support
The Carmel Clay School District in Indiana approved a $1,500 signing bonus to candidates who successfully drive a route for three months and pass an evaluation. Not far away, the Oswego School District in Illinois performs on-the-spot interviews at local job fairs and offers successful candidates signing bonuses of up to $1,000.
Adams 12 Five Star Schools outside of Denver has fierce hiring competition amid the area’s low unemployment and new state minimum wage of $8.31 per hour. The district-run department augments its driving staff for 158 buses by targeting ideal candidates—seniors, singles and parents who want to be on their children’s schedule.
“They are very conscientious, and they love the kids,” said Mark Hinson, chief human resource officer for Adams 12 Five Star Schools.
Recruiters put help wanted signs on the buses and show up on the candidates’ turf—social media, job fairs, county economic development office and grocery stores. The offer is up to $19 per hour and attractive benefits for part-time work. It offers comprehensive benefits for 20 or more hours a week, well below what the Affordable Healthcare Act mandates.
The Washington County School District in Utah offers a Champion Program to retain existing drivers while recruiting others. Greg Bozarth, assistant principal at Lava Ridge Intermediate School, is a motivator for the driving team. He brings members together for summer luncheons to talk about best practices and recognize drivers with gift cards and appreciation certificates.
On the bus, safety patrols and student council leaders support drivers by thwarting stressful student behaviour issues. Seventy-two youth zone leaders are trained to monitor behaviour and enforce a seating chart.
“While the salary is low, drivers find value in good support and acknowledgement,” Bozarth said.
|Ride Hailing for Student Transportation?
Article By: School Transportation News (California)
Article Date: June 23, 2016
The reign of taxis has been broken. Ride-hailing services from Uber and Lyft are decimating the traditional modes of paid transportation, with mass transit the next possible objective. The concern now is that these companies, and ones with similar business models, have set their sights on the school bus.
Uber alone has begun to consider expanding into other fields with a division called UberEverything. This department investigates opportunities to diversify outside of the ride-hailing sector, like food delivery and courier services. One such venture has been unveiled in the Pacific Northwest for beta testing.
Tackling mass transit, such as the Seattle city bus system, UberHOP operates along a predetermined route, providing passengers multi-person, ride-sharing options. According to the scheme, it offers a smooth blend of conventional public transportation with on-demand convenience of modern ride-hailing services. Whether or not this proves successful is still up in the air.
Rest assured, though, the replacement of the school bus remains a remote possibility. Yes, the taxicab industry is in ruins and mass transit should be a bit worried. Yet, even with the chance that a number of ride-hailing start-ups geared specifically to drive children to and from school suddenly cropping up across the country, curtailing the dominance of the student transportation industry is slim.
For Uber and Lyft to pivot to student transportation and achieve the same success nationally, a number of hurdles must be surpassed. Even those within the student transportation community aren’t worried that this will happen anytime soon, believing that the incidences where Uber and the like have overtaken the market are isolated and occurring to industries that have always been in the need of radical overhauls.
“I haven’t really heard of ride-hailing programs being used much in school transportation,” said Brian Mann, director of sales and marketing for busHive. “I may have heard it being used once or twice as a substitute for morning and afternoon routes. Instead of kids taking the bus, they may use a ride-hailing app to get brought home or an after-school activity; however, this is not common or a trend by any means.”
“Honestly, I do not see ride-hailing programs threatening the school transportation market,” Mann said. “Actual bus operators may feel differently; however, school bus drivers have annual trainings, screenings and certifications. I cannot see parents wanting their kids to be picked up by an unidentified stranger with no qualifications.”
Equally as important, yet not as equally discussed, is that ride-hailing programs cost money. UberHOP, for instance, comes with a $5 fare per ride. That becomes pricy when used on a daily basis. While people have always sought alternatives to public transportation, it has been limited to those who can regularly afford taxis or car services. For a major portion of the population, the cheapest solution is often the only solution.
On top of the expense issue, these companies are facing or settling several cases of litigation across the country. Uber recently resolved two lawsuits in California and Massachusetts for a sum of $100 million to end a fight with its contractors who sought employee status. This settlement arrived a few weeks before two more class-action lawsuits from workers in Florida and Illinois who are fighting for the same change.
Still, establishing a similar Uber/Lyft model to student transportation remains a goal. A few companies have cropped up in the last year to try to mimic the success of Uber and Lyft. Two start-ups, Shuddle and HopSkipDrive, have attempted to bring about on-demand, ride-hailing services to a few cities on the West Coast.
Shuddle, which was based in San Francisco, promoted itself as kid-friendly, ride-sharing program for parents willing to pay a bit more for on-demand service. While the company grew its staff to 32, provided 65,000 rides and secured funds of $12 million, Shuddle fell short of its further fundraising goals and ceased operations in April.
The Los Angeles-based HopSkipDrive is still going strong. Much like Shuddle, HopSkipDrive offers rides to both school and after-school. Currently, the company operates throughout L.A., Orange County and San Francisco, and employs 500 drivers, who are rigorously vetted, including background checks and fingerprinting. Drivers must also have childcare experience.
“HopSkipDrive is perfect for the times when the regular school bus schedule isn’t convenient or when a child requires additional caregiving outside of the set bus route,” said Joanna McFarland, CEO and co-founder of HopSkipDrive.
McFarland has explicitly stated that her company wasn’t founded to compete with the school bus. Instead, McFarland believes that HopSkipDrive “offers a more accessible and convenient option for those families that need that extra flexibility as well as confirmation that their kids have arrived to their destinations safely and reliably.”
The intended use of HopSkipDrive, as McFarland pointed out, is for busy families that find it challenging to use the transportation options provided by schools.
“We understand that parents and kids alike are busier than ever, and it’s impossible to be in two places at once whether due to work obligations or other family responsibilities,” McFarland said.
HopSkipDrive provides families with the necessary flexibility to fit individual needs in order “to simplify their lives.” This can especially true for families in the 21st century, as the school bus runs on a set schedule, and in a time when children might have two sets of parents, HopSkipDrive can be a great solution for families that “want to provide continuity for their kids in getting to and from school and activities, or even doing the exchange from one parent’s house to the other’s.”
“During the day, when buses don’t always run—be it early morning or late afternoon—and parents are working, we’re providing an alternative solution to help families make it work,” McFarland said. “The bus also may not be available to take children to their extracurricular activities like tutoring, dance and soccer when parents are stuck at work or can’t be in two places at once, or even to and from parties on weekends.”
Investors seem to feel that, at least for now, HopSkipDrive is a sound venture as the company recently secured $10.2 million in funding.
|Lacroix Bus Service Inc. - School Buses and Inventory For Sale!
Lacroix Bus Service Inc. has an inventory of 80 vehicles to liquidate along with several other items.
Upon request, a list of all vehicles available for sale will be provided including the following details:
3. Capacity (passengers)
6. Fuel type
For potential buyers only, Lacroix would be pleased to provide any additional information along with the listed prices for vehicles you may be enquiring about.
Please note that the list is being updated regularly to remove sold items. Any specific questions or concerns may be addressed to our mechanics. They would be pleased to tell you everything about the mechanical history of a particular item.
Please contact: Lacroix Bus Service Inc. Hearst (Ontario)
Tel: 705-362-5279 during business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, closed 12-1 pm)
|Oregon Association Recognizes High Achievers
Article By: School Transportation News (Oregon)
Article Date: June 22, 2016
The 49th annual Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA) Summer Conference recognized seven individuals, one posthumously, for their contributions to state and local operations.
A somber cloud hung over the more than 200 conference attendees at the The Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center, as the lunchtime ceremony celebrated the life and accomplishments of Theresa Massey, who died May 1 at the age of 65.
Massey devoted much of her life to the pursuit of knowledge, working as an instructor of reading and study skills at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, while also holding HBDI Certification through Hermann Solutions. Her lifetime of achievements fit into the conference's theme, The Journey is the Reward.
Massey was presented the Oregon Pupil Transportation Association (OPTA) Big Wheel Award for her dedication to teaching school bus trainers the appropriate learning tools to further the abilities of other school bus drivers. Her husband, David, accepted the award on her behalf.
Stacey Delgado, of Ashland School District, was named the School Bus Driver Trainer of the Year, Connie Lutz of North Clackamas Public Schools, won the School Bus Driver of the Year Award, Nick Scott of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, won the Golden Wrench Award, Stephanie Malherbe of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, was recognized for her dedication to special needs transportation, and the OPTA Ron Bryan President's Award went to Earl Pettit, the transportation director, superintendent and athletic director at Monument School District.
Prior to the award ceremony, consultant Barry McCahill discussed issues affecting school transportation, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recent announcement for all school buses to be equipped with lap-shoulder restraints and other regulatory matters, such as driver training. McCahill is a retired acting director of public and consumer affairs at NHTSA.
The other workshops focused on such topics as mitigating sexual misconduct on the bus, leadership, seat belts, technology and industry trends.
The trade show, which followed morning sessions on training adult learners, bus purchase plans and behavioral supports. Roger Neilsen, chief operating officer at Daimler Trucks North America, closed the conference on Friday with the general session, "The Connected Bus: The Impact of the Digital World on Pupil Transportation."
|Edmonton Plumber's VW-School Bus Hybrid Hits The Road
Article By: Edmonton Sun (Alberta)
Article Date: June 24, 2016
If you see an old yellow school bus with a 1973 Bay Window Volkswagen welded to its roof driving around, say hello to Paul Caspers.
He's the mad scientist behind the hybrid vehicle called the Bustache because of the small mustache painted on the front of the VW.
The 27-year-old Edmonton plumber bought the bus last September. A month later, inspiration struck. "I was just hanging out with some friends one night having a laugh," Caspers said. "I wanted something different and as soon as I thought of the idea, I never thought of not doing it. I just had to do it."
For the low price of $2,200 and a case of Corona, he bought the VW in High River and towed it back to Edmonton.
With engineering advice in his back pocket and with the help of a friend who is a welder, the project came together smoothly from start to finish, Caspers said. The project cost him about $6,500. "I've probably dedicated the last four months solely to this," he said. "It's been fun."
Bustache has enough sleeping space for 13 people and comes complete with lamb wool seat covers, an outdoor shower — the VW's gas tank was converted into a water storage unit — and an internal trap door gives access to upstairs which has more sleeping space and plush carpet flooring.
What it doesn't have is a decent sound system, but that's OK because Caspers plans to slowly chase music festivals across North America. He began with Astral Harvest near Slave Lake on the Canada Day long weekend and plans to end with Burning Man in Black Rock Desert in Nevada in late August and early September.
"I worked so hard on this, I just want to enjoy it," he said.
To watch a video tour of the VW-School Bus Hybrid, click here.
|OSBA Summer Message
Wishing you a very safe and happy summer filled with much sunshine, warm days and cool nights…..enjoyable occasions with family and friends…..and lots of time to rejuvenate.
On behalf of OSBA President Les Cross, the Board of Directors and contractors, OSBA thanks you for a wonderful year so far and looks forward to serving you in the Fall.
If there is anything we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate to let us know!
www.osba.on.ca / Tel. 416-695-9965 / Fax 416-695-9977 / firstname.lastname@example.org