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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 28, 2016 - Issue 9

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Inside this Edition:
  1. Full House at OTE's Session on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
  2. Canada's List of the 25 Most Accident-Prone Railway Crossings Include 4 Crossings in Ontario
  3. Nova Scotia School Buses Illegally Passed 1,100 Times This Year
  4. First Student Selects Latest School Bus Artwork Winner
  5. Upcoming 2016 Events
Full House at OTE's Session on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

The Monday afternoon session, with Speaker  the Hon Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance responsible for the implementation of Ontario’s Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), brought out delegates from both the school bus and motor coach sectors, with school bus members raising the most concerns.
 
Like the CPP, the ORPP is a retirement savings plan intended to provide Ontarians with a predictable source of retirement income for life.
 
The Plan will begin enrolling employers in 2017 with the first phase of contributions beginning in 2018. By 2020, subject to legislative approval, every employee in Ontario would be part of either the ORPP or a comparable workplace pension plan.  Employees and employers would contribute an equal amount, capped at 1.9% each (3.8% combined) on an employee’s annual earnings.
 
Minister Hunter outlined the rational for Ontario moving ahead on a provincial plan in the absence of improvements to CPP,  acknowledging the Province’s preference to CPP changes is most preferred, but requiring two-thirds approval from provinces to make that a reality.
 
Many school bus operators voiced concerns to the Minister clearly explaining the financial impact to the industry as the government is the sole funder of student transportation.
 
Without a dedicated increase to the transfer grants, operators are squeezed even more on the wage component as wages amounted to 53 cents of every dollar spent.
 
Trying to explain to drivers is challenging as they see the deductions resulting in less take home money.
 
While the Minister was not in a position to make any promises, she did commit to addressing our concerns with her Cabinet colleagues, including the Minister of Education.
 
For more information on the ORPP, go to http://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-pensions-and-retirement-savings
Canada's List of the 25 Most Accident-Prone Railway Crossings Include 4 Crossings in Ontario

Article By: CBC News (Canada)
Article Date: April 14, 2016


A CBC News investigation into Canada's top 25 most accident-prone railway crossings has found wide-spread design flaws across the country. Some of the most dangerous railway crossings in Canada lack automated gate arms, protective pedestrian gates, advance warning signs, bells and flashing lights. Other deficiencies include poor sightlines for drivers, confusing road signs and overgrown bush.
 
The most crash-prone crossing in all of Canada is the St. George Street crossing of the CP rail line in London, Ontario. The CBC reports that sightlines are poor at this crossing where freight trains pass through the heart of a busy urban area. Also, St. George Street is a popular shortcut for motorists looking to avoid jams at a nearby intersection. There have been 12 crashes at this crossing since 2000. CP Rail installed an automated gate a few months ago while the city placed "no left turn signs" — but they are routinely ignored by motorists.

Three other Ontario cities have level crossings on the top 25 list, including Wilson St. in Woodstock (ranked #6), Oakwood St. in Ingersoll (ranked 12th) and Cochrane Road in Hamilton (ranked #15)

For the full CBC News article, go to: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/railway-crossing-safety-flaws-1.3532430
Nova Scotia School Buses Illegally Passed 1,100 Times This Year

Article By: CBC News (Nova Scotia)
Article Date: April 26, 2016


The Nova Scotia School Boards Association is raising the alarm about a dangerous trend involving school buses and other motorists.

So far this school year, there have been more than 1,100 incidents where drivers failed to stop for a school bus that had its red lights flashing and stop sign deployed.

"We are concerned with the number of violations that are happening in a relatively small populated area," said Trish Smith of the association.

"We don't have thousands of buses on the road. We transport roughly 82,000 students a day across the province. So 1,100 in a couple of months is significant."

The association has posted two short videos to YouTube showing incidents in southwestern Nova Scotia earlier this school year. In each case, the video shows a stopped bus with lights flashing and stop sign deployed. A pickup truck drives right past the bus in each case.

The Tri-County School Board, which covers Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne counties, used what are described as "floater" buses to make these videos.

Drivers on these routes had noticed the problem escalating and requested the special, camera-equipped buses to catch offenders. The cameras can capture traffic in both directions and provide authorities with images of the driver, the vehicle and the licence plate.

In most cases, however, it is hard to get all the elements necessary to prove the offence, given most school buses are not equipped with cameras and it's tough to catch the licence plate numbers of offending vehicles.

So far during this school year, RCMP, which patrol most rural areas in this province, have issued 28 tickets and 15 warnings.

A first offence under the Motor Vehicle Act for driving past a stopped school bus carries a $410 fine and six demerit points on the driver's licence. For subsequent offences, the fine increases to $1272.50.

Drivers can even be charged for passing a bus that has its amber warning lights flashing. The fine for failing to pass with caution carries a $295 fine.

"You can be caught and you can seriously injure or kill a child," Smith said. "So those two pieces together should be deterrent enough to just stop for the school bus."
First Student Selects Latest School Bus Artwork Winner

Article By: School Transportation News (STN)
Article Date: April 26, 2016


School bus contractor First Student named second grader Richard Xu of Jericho, New York, as the newest winner of the company’s inagural artwork contest for his depiction of the theme, “Happiness Starts with Yellow.”

Xu attends George A. Jackson School, which is receiving $1,000 from First Student for classroom supplies. First Student also said Xu’s artwork will be featured in the June issue of American School Board Journal.

“Participating in the artwork contest provided our students with a great opportunity to show their appreciation for the role the school bus plays in their lives,” said Jackson School Principal Benny D’Aquila. “We are proud of Richard for the creativity he showed in creating the winning entry.”

The school bus contractor said it is awarding a total of $12,000 this year, or about one award a month, to school district customers nationwide for winning entries from their students. First Student selected the first winning entry from the St. Louis Public School District in January. Lejla Husetovic from Buder Elementary created artwork that shows a First Student bus outside of her school with her classmates on a picture-perfect day.

“Nothing symbolizes the start and end of every school day more than the yellow school bus,” said First Student President Dennis R. Maple. “We recognize the important role we play in each child’s school day, and through this artwork contest, we get a chance to see what riding a First Student bus means to the students we serve.”

Contest submissions are being shared on First Student's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts using the hashtag #MasterpieceMonday.
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