The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) is a non-profit association providing advocacy, education and legislative consultation services to the owners of school bus fleets, school boards/transportation consortia and supplier/manufacturer companies across Ontario.  
April 14, 2016 - Issue 8

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Inside this Edition:
  1. Special 90-Minute Session on Transitioning at OTE 2016
  2. Changing from Red-Only to the 8-Lamp Warning Light System
  3. GTA Rail Crossings Ranked on Internal Government 'Highest Risk' List
  4. Paul McMahon Appointed Executive Director of OASBO
  5. Tumbleweed Transportation Joins With SafeStop School Bus Tracking App
  6. Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Parents Fight School Bus Cuts
  7. National School Bus Safety Week 2016
  8. Upcoming 2016 Events
Attention Business Owners - Special 90-Minute Session on Transitioning - One More Reason to Register for this Year's OTE

A special 90-minute session on Monday’s program at this year’s OTE is one that business owners won’t want to miss. John Hotson, a marketing strategist with over 35 years of experience working in large and small organizations and founding partner of the Business Transition Alliance, will lead a discussion to help bus operators maximize the value of their business.
As business owners begin the inevitable process of transitioning their business…. whether that means selling the business outright, handing it off to family members or perhaps just stepping back and providing a guiding hand….they ultimately have to come to terms with what truly drives the value of their business.  Identifying the things that build value and making that transferable to the next generation of owners can be a challenging undertaking.
During this session, scheduled for Monday April 25th from 2:45 pm to 4:15 pm, John will review what drives value and helps a company align its behaviours and activities inside the company with the expectations and value perceptions outside the company – thereby increasing the value of the business from a prospective buyer’s point of view.
Attending this session will help business owners learn how value drivers are rooted in organizational routines that include the management and maintenance of key assets, building recurring revenue streams and effective resource deployment to maximize cash flow. As John puts it, “Its sounds simple, and it is. But simple does not always equal easy.”

Reserve your place today by registering on-line here.
Changing from Red-Only to the 8-Lamp Warning Light System

OSBA would really appreciate members’ views and opinions regarding changing from the red-only to the 8-lamp amber-red warning light system.  A survey was sent to the main contacts of all bus operator members with the hope to gather member perspectives on this important industry issue.   

All provinces and states in North America have adopted the 8-lamp system except for Ontario, Saskatchewan and Wisconsin, although Saskatchewan and Wisconsin have both recently announced they will be changing to the 8-lamp system in the near future.  There are many advantages of the 8-lamp system over the “red-only” system – the question is when and how should this changeover occur?

Replies will be collated and submitted in a submission to the Ministry of Transportation in the very near future.
GTA Rail Crossings Ranked on Internal Government 'Highest Risk' List

Article By: CBC News (Toronto)
Article Date: April 13, 2016

An Ajax rail crossing is ranked among the most potentially risky in the country, according to a federal government list that was not widely shared with local officials and communities, a CBC News investigation has learned.

The Audley Road crossing, near Taunton Road, was ranked fifth on a list of 500 rail crossings from across the country flagged by Transport Canada in a 2014 assessment of risk factors. 

Ranked just above the Ajax crossing, at number four, was a southwestern Ontario crossing where two people were killed when a Via Rail train slammed into their vehicle last week.

Other GTA rail crossings that made the list include several in the City of Mississauga, York and Durham regions. In most cases, local authorities said they were not informed by Transport Canada of these rankings.

"The Town of Ajax was unaware of Transport Canada's rail crossing list," Ajax spokesperson Rachael Wraith confirmed in a statement.

"We believe there should be more communication between Transport Canada and municipalities regarding the criteria for this list and action plans to address the issues."

There have been no recorded collisions at the Audley Road crossing. 

The rail crossing is just a few hundred metres from a recreation centre and less than a kilometre from a school. A pedestrian walkway also crosses the tracks at the same location. Last summer, the area was bustling with activity due to the Pan Am Games baseball and softball events being played at a venue just a few hundred metres north of the crossing.

People living nearby were surprised to learn it was considered high-risk by the government.

"This is information that's supposed to get out to the people," Eddie Persaud, another Ajax resident, told CBC News when he learned about the government's list.

Persaud says people in the area assume the crossing is safe and he's witnessed pedestrians sneaking across the tracks while the gate arms are lowered.

Transport Canada told CBC News in an emailed statement that they regularly communicate with municipalities.

Determining risk

The list was generated in 2014 by Transport Canada with the results from a risk assessment computer model called GradeX, developed to assist with targeting improvements to higher-risk crossings. The GradeX system is only made available internally to Transport Canada staff.

In order to assess risk factors, the model evaluates factors such as volume or road rail traffic, train speeds, number of tracks and warning devices present. The federal agency explained that changes made to crossings or other new variables after 2014 are not reflected in the ranking, and that a reassessment today would not necessarily yield the same results.

Officials further explained their ranking system designed to evaluate their crossing safety program in a written statement:

"Risk factors do not necessarily mean a crossing is unsafe. When you compare two different crossings against these risk factors you may deem one crossing to be higher risk than the other. These characteristics are not compliance related, that is to say a crossing that is deemed as a higher risk is not unsafe."

Waterloo researchers helped developed risk assessment tool

GradeX was created by engineers at the University of Waterloo. Using specialized software, they can analyze historical accident data, train speeds, traffic volumes and sight lines in order to determine the potential for future collisions between trains and vehicles or pedestrians.

Professor emeritus Frank Saccomanno describes the system as a "decision-support tool" to help Transport Canada prioritize safety upgrades at rail crossings.

While crossings like Audley Road may not have any recorded collisions, "that doesn't mean that they're necessarily safe," Saccomanno said, "or that it shouldn't be given any attention."

"The approach that we took is to develop a prediction model of collisions using established methods to try to obtain an estimate of what is the potential for a crossing accident," Saccomanno said.

'Highest Risk' GTA crossings

The ranked list contains at least 26 rail crossings in the GTA, though none is in the City of Toronto.

There are seven in the City of Mississauga, most of which are located in highly-populated areas near homes, businesses and schools.

Throughout York Region there are 12 high-risk rail crossings, including two ranked in the top-30, based on the 2014 assessments. Of the 500 crossings flagged by the government, 222 are located in Ontario.

Across the province, between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2015, there were 963 collisions at railway crossings involving vehicles or pedestrians which resulted in 178 fatalities and 156 serious injuries. 

There were 29 rail crossing collisions in Ontario last year. The number is down from 44 in 2014 and far from the recent high of 92 collisions reached in 2005.
Paul McMahon Appointed Executive Director of OASBO

The Ontario Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Paul McMahon has been appointed as Executive Director. He will replace Bill Blackie who is leaving OASBO on August 31, 2016.

Paul will assume the role of Executive Director on September 1, 2016. He will also serve in a transition capacity from July 18 to August 31, 2016.

Following 34 years in the education and private sectors, Paul McMahon is retiring from his position as Superintendent of Business Services and Treasurer for the Halton Catholic District School Board. He previously held positions with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, and several private sector firms.

With 1,300 members representing all 72 school boards in Ontario, OASBO is the largest association of senior school business professionals in the Province. Members are dedicated to collaboratively developing and promoting excellence in business practices to support learning. As Executive Director, Paul McMahon will be responsible for managing the organization and assisting the Board in achieving its strategic goals, as well as fostering positive relationships with members, the government, and other education stakeholders.

The OASBO Board of Directors, welcomes Paul to his new role as Executive Director.
Tumbleweed Transportation Joins With SafeStop School Bus Tracking App

Article By: School Transportation News (California)
Article Date: April 5, 2016

SafeStop, the fastest growing and industry-leading school bus tracking app, announced that Southern California-based Tumbleweed Transportation, which specializes in providing customized safe and reliable school transportation to numerous Los Angeles area private and public schools, has signed up to provide the SafeStop app to its customers.

“We welcome Tumbleweed and their 150 plus vehicle fleet into the SafeStop family and look forward to working with them,” said Patrick Gallagher, director of sales for SafeStop. “They are one of Southern California’s leading school transportation providers and are really out front and leading the way in bringing school transportation into the 21st century. Tumbleweed will begin offering the app to schools and parents at the start of next school year as SafeStop expands coverage in Southern California and throughout the country.

Created in 2013, SafeStop is the fastest growing app of its kind that allows parents and school officials to securely track the school bus. The app includes a secure registration process, real-time map feature that displays the location of their child’s bus, estimated times of arrival at their bus stop, and provides parents with an alerts and messaging center. The alerts and messaging center serves as an extra communication channel that alerts parents about important school news such as delays, closings, early dismissals or upcoming school events, and eliminates the need for phone calls to schools or bus depots. SafeStop also includes a proprietary student scanning feature that sends in app notifications to parents when their child scans on or off the bus.

Transportation providers and school officials are both utilizing the app’s SafeStop Analytics to access important data that helps establish and review Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and provide ridership reports for their transportation system so they can compare, evaluate and optimize their on-time performance. The administrative reports serve as a great management tool to measure KPI’s and potentially lower the cost of operations. Transportation providers and school officials are also finding that they are providing increased levels of customer service to parents by offering SafeStop.

SafeStop is available in the U.S. and Canada. The app is compatible with any transportation provider, any GPS hardware, and any routing software. The service provides flexible payment options and can be school funded or school subsidized with a small monthly fee to parents. Pro-rated launch prices and monthly plans are available so that schools and districts can start using the app anytime during the remainder of the school year. Plans are also available for the 2016-17 school year.

To learn more about the SafeStop app and to contact a representative, please visit
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Parents Fight School Bus Cuts

Article By: CBC News (British Columbia)
Article Date: April 8, 2016

About 40 parents in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows (British Columbia) met last week at Whonnock Lake Centre to discuss the upcoming cuts to school bus service in their area.

Students in school district 42, excluding those with special needs, will no longer be able to take the bus to class starting this fall. The district made the decision to cut the service 15 months ago. 

Parents are worried that due to unreliable public transit in the area, many children will end up walking to school.

"It's down windy roads. There are no sidewalks," said Pascale Shaw whose daughter will be attending high school next year. "It's not lit, so in winter time it would be dark. We have lots of wildlife, cougars, bears, coyotes."

Another parent says she might be forced to take drastic action to keep the students safe.

"I may have to quit my job to stay at home to cater to my kids and get them to and from school. As well as help our other parents who are stuck in the same situation," said Chantelle Cherenkora, whose two children currently take the bus to school in Maple Ridge.

It would take her children 40 minutes to walk to school, Cherenkora said.

School district 42 told CBC it made the decision to cut the service, which costs $710,000 per year to run, because only 360 out of 14,000 students take the bus to school. The district tried to implement fees to subsidize the service but it wasn't enough, said Mike Murray, the district's board of education chair.

The district is one of several in the province making cuts to programs and services due to provincial funding cuts.

The parents at the meeting say they plan to go to the school district meeting on April 20 to air their grievances.
National School Bus Safety Week 2016

Join OSBA on October 17-21, 2016 to celebrate School Bus Safety Week. This year's theme is once again adopted from the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and is: “Bully Free Zone!”
School Bus Safety Week is an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties - to join forces and promote the importance of school bus safety.
The NAPT 2015 Winning Poster/2016 National School Bus Safety Week theme was drawn by: Melia Lafleur, Grade 8 at Kapolei Middle School, Kapolei, HI, as follows:

Upcoming 2016 Events

Apr. 16-21 Canadian Pupil Transportation Conference (CPTC)
Apr. 24-27 Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) – Conference – International Plaza Hotel, Toronto
Apr. 26 Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) – Trade Show – International Centre (Hall #5), Toronto
Apr. 28 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
May 1-6 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
May 9-11 Association of School Business Officials of Alberta (ASBOA) – Annual Conference and Trade Show
May 25 OSBA Webinar
Jun. 22 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Jul. 10-15 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Aug. 7-12 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Sept. 28 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification Program
Oct. 16-21 Professional Instructor in Driver Education (P.R.I.D.E.) Program
Oct. 17-21 National School Bus Safety Week
Oct. 27-28 2016 OASBO Annual Pupil Transportation Conference
Oct. 19 OSBA Webinar
Nov. 23 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification

Copyright © 2016 Ontario School Bus Association
All rights reserved.  This publication is intended for the exclusive use of OSBA Members.  Reproduction without prior permission is prohibited.

Contact OSBA:
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