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.  
March 30, 2016 - Issue 7

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Inside this Edition:
  1. 2016-2017 Student Transportation Grants (GSN)
  2. It is Illegal to Cover the Signs on a School Bus
  3. Ontario's Minimum Wage will Increase October 1, 2016
  4. OTE Early Registration Fee Cut-off is April 1st
  5. OSBA Annual General Meeting (AGM) - April 26, 2016
  6. The Higher-Tech Future of School Bus Stop Signs
  7. Planning of 2016 OASBO Pupil Transportation Conference
  8. Alberta School Bus Tech Punches Ticket to America's Best
  9. Upcoming 2016 Events
2016-2017 Student Transportation Grants (GSN)

The Ministry of Education has announced the student transportation grant for 2016-2017.  “In 2016-2017, the student transportation grant will be increased by 2% to help boards manage increased costs.  As in previous years, this 2% cost update will be netted against a school board’s transportation surplus.  In addition, funding adjustments due to fuel price changes will continue to be triggered by the fuel escalation and de-escalation mechanism throughout the school year.”  Board by board allocation will follow in the next few weeks.   
The OSBA is very disappointed that the Ministry has failed to recognize the real cost increases to student transportation as outlined in our cost escalation paper recently submitted to the Government.  We will be writing Minister Sandals and Premier Wynne requesting that they honour their commitment, from the June 2014 election campaign, to review the student transportation benchmarks.  We are now two years passed the commitment date and the continued delay is simply unacceptable.
It is Illegal to Cover the Signs on a School Bus

At least one DriveTest Centre in Ontario was requiring applicants who brought a School Bus for a Class C road test to cover the words “School Bus” on the front and rear of the bus, and the “Do Not Pass When Signals Flashing” on the back of the bus.  While covering the front and rear signs means the bus is no longer a “School Bus” by definition, doing so creates other violations for which the driver or the operator could be charged:

  1. Charges could be laid under HTA 175(4) as only a “School Bus” can be equipped with a stop arm.
  2. Charges could be laid under HTA 175(3.1) for operating a chrome yellow bus that is not a “School Bus”  
  3. Charges could be laid under HTA 62(15) for operating a vehicle other than a “School Bus” or an emergency vehicle equipped with lamps capable of showing a red light to the front.
To legally operate the bus with the signs covered, the operator must paint the entire bus another colour, remove the stop arm device and disconnect the overhead red warning lamps. DriveTest has been reminded by MTO that if a Class C road test is to be conducted using a School Bus, the signage cannot be altered and that during the road test the driver must stop at all railway crossings (protected and unprotected).
Ontario's Minimum Wage will Increase October 1, 2016

Ontario is raising the general minimum wage from $11.25 to $11.40 on October 1, 2016 – making Ontario's minimum wage the highest of any province in Canada. It’s the tenth Ontario minimum wage increase since 2003. Minimum wages for liquor servers, students under the age of 18, hunting and fishing guides, and homeworkers will also increase at the same time.  The government says the increase is the result of changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 that tie minimum-wage increases to Ontario's Consumer Price Index. For further information go to:
OTE Early Registration Fee Cut-off is April 1st

The Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) is just around the corner – April 24 - 27, 2016. Get the latest information on key industry topics and discover new ideas to improve your operations. OTE is the place to expand your professional network and elevate your business. Take a look at the pre-conference detailed program here and you’ll see how this year’s OTE business session line up covers many of the topics and issues facing the bus industry today.  The following topics will be of particular interest to school bus operators:
  • Autonomous Vehicles are coming!
  • The Hon. Colin Campbell – Improving School Bus Operator-Consortia Relationships in a Competitive Environment
  • MTO Carrier Safety & Enforcement Update
  • Driver Certification Program – Audit and Training Curriculum Update
  • Making Sense of Criminal Background Checks
  • The Proposed Ontario Pension Plan
  • Substance Abuse, Random Testing and Your Company’s Alcohol & Drug Policy
  • Business Transition and Succession – Improving the Value of Your Company
  • Partners in Success – Insurance and Bus Operators
  • Developing Talent from Within Your Own Organization
  • Charged with an HTA Offence – Know Your Rights!
  • Ontario’s Distracted Driving Laws and Bus Drivers
  • Three Point Belts in School Buses
  • Ask a Lawyer – Employment and HR Issues Facing Bus Operators
  • School Bus Markings and the New CSA D250-16 Standard

Reserve your place today by registering on-line here. 

OSBA Annual General Meeting (AGM) - April 26, 2016

OSBA members are encouraged to attend the OSBA Annual General Meeting happening Tues. April 26, 2016 at 8:30 am in the International A Room of the International Plaza Hotel, 655 Dixon Road, Toronto, ON, M9W 1J3, 416.244.1711.  We look forward to seeing you there! 
The Higher-Tech Future of School Bus Stop Signs

Article By: City Lab (Ohio, U.S.)
Article Date: March 17, 2016

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are few safer ways to get to school than aboard a bright yellow school bus. The lumbering mother hens of the road are subject to a large batch of safety rules, which keep them heavy, tall, and equipped with emergency exits. School bus seats are extra padded, and purposefully designed into neat compartments to protect kiddos as an egg carton would eggs. Their roofs are reinforced with steel, in case of a rollover. And this stuff works: according to 2013 DOT data, just four school-age kids are killed aboard buses each year, compared to the 490 killed heading to and from school in other passenger vehicles.

The biggest risks in riding school buses come not while onboard, but while getting on and off. Of the 119 school-age pedestrians who died in school-vehicle-related crashes between 2003 and 2012, 65 percent were struck by the bus, but 30 percent were struck by another vehicle. And signs don’t always help. In a study of one of its districts, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) found that 20 percent of school bus-related crashes occurred near a “School Bus Stop Ahead” sign.

Signs don’t always work because drivers don’t always pay attention. Drivers don’t always stop behind school buses with their lights on, even though they’re generally required by law to do so. But ignoring signs isn’t necessarily purely driving neglect: in particularly hilly areas, or along particularly curvy roads, school bus stops sometimes have to be close to a crest or curve. That makes it difficult for even well-meaning drivers to see whether offloading children are nearby. There’s a psychological effect at play here, too. School buses only pause at stops twice a day, but drivers see “School Bus Stop Ahead” signs all the time. That inures motorists against the effects of the yellow placards, which is bad for school buses, bad for drivers, and bad, particularly, for the kids who actually have to get off at the stops.

Back in Ohio, DOT researchers are thinking seriously about how to get drivers to take school bus signs, well, more seriously. Their solution is inextricably linked to the human desire for anything bright and shiny.

In a paper released last month, the researchers suggested installing flashing lights to snap drivers to attention. This is not unprecedented: In Alberta, Canada—always a step ahead, up there in the Great White North—the government has been phasing out the use of non-flashing “School Bus Stop Ahead” signs since 2009Previous research has found that these flashing signs are especially effective when they light up only when a bus is in sight.

But how do you get a sign to know that a bus is nearby? That’s where the tech comes in. The ODOT researchers evaluated a number of options, because it turns out there are a lot.

A few examples: in the sensors category, we’ve got Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) technology, which pinpoints buses’ positions by GPS and transmits them to central command. Proximity sensors can determine whether a large, metallic object (say, a school bus) is nearby, and then tell the lights to flash accordingly. There are sensors that depend on radio frequency, like the technology used by traffic lights to sense whether an emergency vehicle (or bike) is nearby, and keep the lights green. In this case, the “School Bus Stop Ahead” sign would communicate with the radio-equipped bus. Lasers, another type of sensor, can figure out whether large or fast-moving vehicles are nearby. Video imaging processing systems could also be installed by each bus stop—in the same way they’re installed by toll roads—and use cameras to determine whether kids or buses are close.

The ODOT researchers also considered other, less traditional options: signs that send out warning honks or beeps when buses are nearby, or equipping cars with in-vehicle alert systems. (Research finds that the latter actually does get people to slow down, but at the cost of really, really annoying the humans behind the wheel.)

After a cost-benefit analysis, however, the winner was bluetooth. According to ODOT, a bluetooth system would use wireless transmitters on school buses to activate flashing lights mounted on “School Bus Stop Ahead” signs. Crucially, the transportation researchers find this system will be relatively inexpensive to install and maintain. Further testing is needed before Ohio goes all in on the technology, though, and that will include a pilot project.
Planning of 2016 OASBO Pupil Transportation Conference

OASBO has commenced development of their 2016 OASBO Pupil Transportation Conference Oct. 26-28, 2016.  The conference will be held at Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood, Ontario. 
The OASBO Conference Planning Committee is once again looking for amazing presentations around student safety in order to keep the conference viable.  OASBO would appreciate session ideas and topics from OSBA members.  Organization of the agenda and speakers is commencing the last week of March.  If you could send your ideas/suggestions directly to Wendy Dobson - as soon as possible, it would be much appreciated.
The OASBO Planning Committee has a few initial suggestions as follows, although these are not yet finalized:
  • Crisis Communication (was cancelled at the last conference due to an emergency with the presenter)
  • Blow By School Buses
  • Key Performance Indicators (very well attended at the last conference and has been asked by several people to bring it back again)
  • Innovative Programs/Processes between School Bus Operators and Consortia
  • AG Report – focuses on school bus safety – perhaps MTO to see what progress is made with recommendations
  • Contract Performance Management – what consortia will be looking for when conducting school bus operator division audits – also part of the AG Report recommendations
For any questions, comments, ideas, suggestions, please contact Wendy Dobson or 519-824-4119 Ext 222.
Alberta School Bus Tech Punches Ticket to America's Best

Article By: School Transportation News (STN)
Article Date: March 30, 2016

The second Canadian province officially joined the America’s Best school bus family when an Alberta representative punched his ticket to participate in the America’s Best Training and Skills competition for technicians and inspectors this fall in Kansas City.

David Rempel, the head mechanic at Grasslands Public School in Brooks, took home the winner’s trophy in the first Alberta School Bus Technician Competition in Red Deer during the Alberta Student Transportation Association Conference. Marshall Casey of America’s Best told STN that 19 technicians in all vied for first place on March 18, “and the competition went very well.”

The runner-up was Jeremy Grigor, a heavy-duty mechanic apprentice at Palliser Regional Schools in Carmangay. Jeff Neufeld, shop foreman at Chinook’s Edge School Division No. 73, finished third.

In addition to the live event, participants completed a one-hour exam that tested them on their knowledge of school bus fasteners, transmission functions and sensors and wiring.

Last summer, British Columbia became the first province to hold a technician event and send representatives to compete at America’s Best.

The 13th Annual America’s Best Training and Skills program is scheduled for November in conjunction with the National Association for Pupil Transportation Summit.
Upcoming 2016 Events
Mar. 30-Apr. 1 Student Transportation Association of Saskatchewan (STAS) – Annual Conference
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. 27-28 2016 OASBO Annual Pupil Transportation Conference
Oct. 19 OSBA Webinar
Nov. 23 P.R.I.D.E. Recertification

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