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.  
November 24, 2016 - Issue 24

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Inside this Edition:
  1. OSBA Executive Committee Changes
  2. Funding Student Transportation - Time to Get it Right
  3. OSBA Attends Ontario Traffic Council (OTC) - Road Safety Council of Ontario (ROSCO), School Zone Safety Workshop
  4. 2016 OSBA Driver Excellence Award Winner
  5. Tougher School Bus Regulations Promised By Christmas
  6. FMCSA to Reveal Drug-Alcohol Clearinghouse, Entry-Level Driver Rules
  7. West Virginia District Pilots Bus Fire Suppression Systems
  8. NTSB: Stricter Guidelines Needed On Bus Driver Health
  9. Bus Driver, Attendant Training to Focus On LGBTQ Students
  10. Order Your OSBA Publications Now!
  11. Upcoming 2017 Events
OSBA Executive Committee Changes

The OSBA Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Mark Begg (Delaney Bus Lines) will assume the role of OSBA President and Chris Harwood (Student Transportation of Canada) will be Vice President as of December 1, 2016.  OSBA extends sincere appreciation to former President Les Cross (resigned from Stock Transportation) for his tireless leadership over the past several years to enhance and further the student transportation industry for all stakeholders.   We offer heartfelt best wishes and good health to Les for his future endeavours.
Both Mark and Chris have previously dedicated significant time and effort to OSBA and the Board of Directors over the past 6 years in various roles as Treasurer and District Directors and look forward to continuing to work with members, industry and government to provide a safe, reliable and vital service to the citizens of Ontario.
Funding Student Transportation — Time to Get it Right

Article Source: The Hamilton Spectator (Ontario)
Author: Angus McKay
Article Date: November 19, 2016

On a cold grey morning in January 2011, more than 100 school bus drivers who had worked diligently to deliver safe student transportation faithfully waited for the news in the Guelph Legion Hall. Upon learning that the company's Fergus branch would be closing, many were overcome with tears and anger. The company had lost 100 bus routes under a bidding process known as an RFP, or Request for Proposal. For years, these drivers had driven school buses for Elliott Coach Lines — some for decades. A number of drivers retired or left the industry when the company lost the contract. Thus began a trend toward the more pervasive school bus driver shortages that persist through much of the province, leaving children stranded and parents exasperated. The woes continue today. In 2015, a driver employed by us in York Region left for a successor company after an RFP loss. She reported that the new company was paying just over $40 per day for "her route" versus the $70 per day she made with us doing the same thing. School board wins, driver loses, children lose. For taxpayers, the jury is still out.

These stories are all too familiar to those firms operating school buses in the province. My own company did an analysis in 2013 that demonstrated how driver turnover doubled even if we were successful in an RFP. The impact of route changes to a successful incumbent scares away drivers who can no longer transport "their kids."

As taxpayers, Ontarians should be overjoyed with RFPs. They have led to millions of dollars of savings in payments to school bus operators. Yet where has the money gone? As recently as September 2016, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter defended the ministry's record on the subject of driver shortages, indicating that transportation funding has increased by 40 per cent since 2003. In the same breath, Hunter trotted out the ministry's oft cited assertion that transportation procurement is between school boards, their beholden transportation consortia, and bus companies. Industry insiders know better, as whispers of provincial strong-arming and "thou-shalt" RFP process templates abound. Saving millions on one hand, yet increasing funding by 40 per cent on the other, simply doesn't square. Taxpayers bear the brunt of the spending increase, while parents (also taxpayers) live with the dislocation that a driver shortage brings. Somewhere in the middle, between the increased funding to school boards, and the reduced payments to bus companies and their drivers, the money is being squandered. On what? Probably not even on transportation. Another guess is that transportation is being used by the four to five overlapping school boards in each local area to compete for enrolment by reducing student walking distances. In essence, a fight for a larger slice of a shrinking pie and a real waste of money! In 2015, when reviewing school transportation, the auditor general either couldn't find the money, or chose not to try.

Someone better find the money soon. Since oil and commodity price drops have produced a 75-cent dollar, new vehicle prices — virtually 100 per cent U.S. imports — have increased by more than 30 per cent. As a consequence, rumours abound that recent RFP responses have come with a higher price tag. These are rumours, because the bid prices are not disclosed. What about fuel though? Anyone can see pump prices have declined since oil was at $110 per barrel. True enough, but the government is already saving that money through rate de-escalation clauses in every significant school bus contract across the province. Taxpayers deserve transparency, they don't have it now.

If the rumours are true, and bus operators are bidding higher, my vote is that the government finds ways — and funds ways — to ensure that appropriate monetary compensation lands squarely on drivers' pay cheques. Drivers do more to ensure the safety of our children than anyone else in school transportation. This government passes the buck to school boards and transportation consortia, well aware that the current system rewards low bids.

It's time they actually passed the bucks to drivers.

Article author Angus McKay worked in school transportation for years. He is now retired and lives in British Columbia.
OSBA Attends Ontario Traffic Council (OTC) – Road Safety Council of Ontario (ROSCO), School Zone Safety Workshop

On November 15th, 2016, OSBA attended a joint school zone safety workshop held by OTC and ROSCO in Vaughan, ON.  The workshop focussed on the various methods student safety can be improved through the design and engineering of schools and the roads that surround them and provided an opportunity to meet municipal transportation professionals from across Ontario.

School zone safety is a shared concern for both transportation officials and municipalities.  Vehicle speed, congestion, visual obstructions and distracted drivers all contribute to increasing the risk of collisions and incidents in school zones.  The eight workshop sessions discussed the many pilots, programs and ideas being used to promote safe transportation within school zones and improve student safety.  Topics of discussion included:
  • Evaluating the use of reduced speed limits to decrease driver speed through school zones.
  • School site planning to ensure future schools are designed and built at sites that will be able to accommodate increased traffic flow and provide multiple transportation access points for staff and students.
  • The use of traffic calming devices to increase driver awareness and reduce driver speed through school zones.  Examples include curb extensions, speed cushions, raised intersections, raised crosswalks, radar message boards and signage.
  • Development of the 2017 OTC School Crossing Guard Guide.
  • Active transportation, such as walking and biking, for students who do not qualify for school bussing to and from school.
For further information on sessions or topics discussed during the workshop, or to provide any comments/suggestions, please contact Alex Bugeya – or 416-695-9965 Ext. 4
2016 OSBA Driver Excellence Award Winner

The Ontario School Bus Association is very pleased to announce that Moira McKibben, of Switzer-Carty Transportation's Mississauga location, was selected as the 2016 OSBA Driver Excellence Recognition Award winner. The award was presented on Oct. 27, 2016 during the Ontario Association of School Business Officials annual Pupil Transportation Conference. A number of extraordinary nominations were received from OSBA members, making it a very difficult task to choose only one winner!

Moira has been a school bus driver for 31 years with an impeccable, accident-free driving record and has maintained a 'perfect' attendance record at Switzer-Carty Transportation. Moira is dedicated to be being there for her students and keeping them safe every day with dependable, safe, reliable service. Her driving and service record is admirable but that is not the only contributing factor to make Moira the perfect choice for this year's award. School bus drivers are special and many go well above and beyond their normal or expected duties. Moira is one of these people!

The school board transportation department in Peel Region praised Moira for what they learned was a wonderful act of kindness for one of her students and his Grandmother who is his caregiver. She donated a meal so that a family in need and struggling would have a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner. Upon receiving the gift of kindness, the Grandmother phoned the school in tears to express her gratitude for the wonderful meal and her appreciation to have such a wonderful caring person in their lives such as Moira.

"We are proud to have Moira representing Switzer-Carty Transpiration each and every day….her kind, caring and generous nature is amazing" said Jim Switzer, CEO and President of Switzer-Carty Transportation.
Tougher School Bus Regulations Promised By Christmas

Article Source: CBC News (Newfoundland & Labrador)
Article Date: November 15, 2016

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is promising tighter regulations to keep faulty school buses off the road, and to punish inspectors who break the law.

"Absolutely we will make changes to strengthen the regulations and the punishment," said Eddie Joyce, minister responsible for Service NL, on Tuesday.

"As of today there's 44 buses taken off the road," he said, adding that number is not as high as in some past years, in 2014 for example, when 74 buses were pulled.

Nonetheless, Joyce said regulatory changes are needed and his department is looking at that now, "to ensure that if there are buses breaking the rules and if there's mechanics or inspection stations breaking the rules we will try to strengthen the regulations to deter such activities."

Closing the "loopholes" could mean stronger punishment for mechanics who are convicted of providing false inspection certificates, Joyce said. 

Under existing regulations, a mechanic is prevented from working on school buses for nine months after a conviction, but he or she can inspect other vehicles.

Joyce said his department is looking at including all vehicles, and implementing a lifetime licence suspension for a second conviction.

Other changes contemplated include a crackdown on inspection sites, to prevent them from opening in another name.

Joyce said inspection results should also be put online, so the public can read them.

He disagreed though, that the system is broken. He said 95 per cent of buses are safe under a system where private inspections are done in the summer, and Service NL follow ups done after the school year starts.

Joyce said the inspections should all be finished by the end of November. He said regulatory changes should be introduced before the legislature shuts for the Christmas break.
FMCSA to Reveal Drug-Alcohol Clearinghouse, Entry-Level Driver Rules

Article Source: School Transportation News (Kansas City, MO)
Article Date: November 14, 2016

A representative of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) told NASDPTS Conference attendees that a final rule creating a database of drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol is “coming soon,” with training regulations for entry-level commercial drivers to be published before the end of the calendar year.

Larry Minor, FMCSA’s associate administrator for policy and program management, covered a variety of regulatory topics during a session early November. He said the Alcohol and Drug Clearinghouse should hit the Federal Register within days, with full compliance due in three years.

Any commercial motor carrier employee who tests positive will be listed in the database, allowing any motor carrier to determine if a new applicant has previously tested positive for alcohol or drugs. The searchable database will also track a driver’s attempts to successfully return to duty, including follow-up testing, treatment, refusal to test, etc.

Minor said motor carriers will also be required to report any actual knowledge of traffic citations issued to their driver for operating a CMV under the influence. He added that FMCSA’s Commercial Vehicle Division is working with the Justice Department to ensure that commercial drivers remain in the clearinghouse even if an original charge is later dismissed.

If drivers meet all return-to-service requirements, data will eventually be purged from the database, with a specific timeframe to be spelled out in the Final Rule. Minor said the stipulation remains “a sensitive subject.”

In discussing Entry-Level Driver Training, or ELDT, Minor said school bus driver seeking a Class B CDL must complete a minimum of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training. That requirement will be increased to at least 30 hours for a Class A commercial license.

The rule was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget on Aug. 30.

“It’s been 20 years in the making but finally the end is near,” Minor added.

Once published, all new driver applicants must attend a training provider by a company registered with the FMCSA starting in December 2019. Registered training providers will need to submit company, training curriculum and information on their trainers to the FMCSA for approval. Part of that process includes the companies agreeing to forward all driver training certifications to FMCSA.

Other topics Minor reviewed were obstructive sleep apnea, medical certifications, hours of service, electronic logging devices, and the safety fitness determination.
West Virginia District Pilots Bus Fire Suppression Systems

Article Source: School Transportation News (Charleston, WV)
Article Date: November 17, 2016

Kanawha County Schools in Charleston, West Virginia, equipped 10 special needs school buses with fire suppression systems to buy additional time for student evacuations as the state looks to approve the technology.

First installed on the district’s safety bus that demonstrates various safety technology, the decision to equip special needs buses with fire suppression systems came after a thermal event two years ago on a special needs bus driven by Mary Slate.

Slate, winner of the 2015 School Bus Driver International Safety Competition’s small bus division, began championing fire suppression systems to squelch fires or at least keep them at bay to aide with student evacuations.

“The fact she had a fire creates a credibility of someone who truly understands the impact of the system to the driver, the students and parents,” said Brette Fraley, executive director of transportation for Kanawha.

Michael Pickens, state director of student transportation with the West Virginia Department of Education, confirmed that Kanawha’s pilot test will run one month. By mid-December, Pickens said he expects to fully authorize all county school systems statewide to specify the fire suppression systems from the state’s approved options list.

Pickens added that his office deemed there was no need for an extended pilot as the Fogmaker system manufactured by USSC Group is only installed in the engine compartment. While hoping no actual fires erupt on the 10 Kanawha buses over the next several weeks, he said that his office mainly wants to ensure the systems do not interfere with the engine, motor or other components during actual route operation.

Fraley said the Fogmaker systems is mounted in the chain box with lines running to nozzles in the engine compartment and works whether the bus is on or off mode. Systems can also be transferred to other buses and have a 10-year service life, with replacement tanks costing about $1,500 each.

Fraley added that the plan is to equip the remaining 28 special needs buses with the Fogmaker systems once the pilot concludes and the Department of Transportation officially approves the technology.

In all, Kanawha operates more than 200 school buses.
NTSB: Stricter Guidelines Needed On Bus Driver Health

Article Source: School Transportation News (U.S.)
Article Date: November 11, 2016

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a recommendation to boost school bus safety in response to a Southern California bus crash two years ago that left 11 children injured, four severely.

In April 2014, an Orange Unified School District bus carrying 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School students veered off the road and crashed into a tree, injuring all students on board. Four students sustained major injuries, including a shattered spine and amputated toe.

Investigators discovered that the bus driver, 25-year-old Gerald Rupple, was unconscious when the bus left the road, later discovering that Rupple had purposely failed to disclose to district officials that he suffered a medical condition that causes dizziness, seizures and blackouts.

He was subsequently charged with one felony count each of child abuse and endangerment, perjury by declaration and causing great bodily injury.

Recently at the NAPT Summit in Kansas City, Mo., the NTSB released a statement recommending to the various national student transportation associations that they “inform school bus drivers of the impact their health may have on the safe transportation of school children, of their responsibility to accurately and completely report their health history and medications and of the legal consequences of dishonesty on the medical examination report.”

The recommendation now awaits response from the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).

The NTSB also reiterated a previous recommendation that these associations provide educational material on lap and shoulder belts offering the highest level of protection for passengers, and how states and school districts should consider the added safety benefits of purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses.

NASDPTS Executive Director Charlie Hood said the association has already responded to this particular recommendation, informing a NTSB representative at the 2016 NASDPTS Annual Conference also in Kansas City. NAPT added it, too, has already responded.

"This recommendation reiterates a recommendation that NAPT received previously from the board and satisfactorily completed approximately three years ago," added NAPT in a Facebook post.

NTSB's recommendations on lap-shoulder belts is a follow up to one issued in response to the 2012 collision between a school bus and a container truck at a New Jersey intersection that killed one student. 

As for the fallout from the Orange County crash, Pam McDonald, director of transportation for Orange Unified School District, said lawsuits brought by two of the injured student's parents are still pending. 
Bus Driver and Attendant Training to Focus On LGBTQ Students

Article Source: School Transportation News (Kansas City, MO)
Article Date: November 10, 2016

Brooke, a 24-year-old college student, came out several years ago as a lesbian, saying that it allowed her "the freedom to be my authentic self." In a video interview, Brooke advised school bus drivers to make an extra effort to support LGBTQ students on board because the drivers may be the only people in the children’s live who do so.

Kathleen Furneaux, executive director of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute and Brooke's aunt, played the interview as part of a presentation to NASDPTS and suppliers council members on the final day of the annual conference.  

Furneaux and PTSI are developing a new driver and attendant training program for the CYR Foundation, the educational arm of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation. The program focuses on protecting LGBTQ students on the bus.

Due to rejection, bullying and harassment, Furneaux said LGBTQ students face growing suicide rates. The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth, reported that LGBTQ students are 2.5 times more likely to harm themselves than their straight peers. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and of these, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to take their own lives.

“The biggest rejection I ever felt didn’t come from anyone else, it came from myself," Brooke said.

School bus drivers and attendants can positively effect this data and protect themselves from violating new federal discrimination laws. In May, the U.S. Department of Education expanded “sexual discrimination” in Title IX to include not only sexual preference but also gender identity.

Furneaux said compassion and tolerance of all children should also be an expectation of driving and attending to students on the school bus

This does not mean school bus drivers and attendants should ignore their own religious and personal values, she added. Instead, she recommends an honest, individual examination of their own potential for prejudice and discrimination, and managing everyday responses and interactions with students on the bus.

"Whatever you feel, whatever your opinions are, they truly are irrelevant when it comes to transporting students on the school bus," Furneaux said. "It must be set aside. Verbal and non-verbal responses must communicate acceptance and tolerance on the bus."

For example, she said drivers and attendants must retain professional and respectful attitude toward all the students they transport. This means focusing on the fact that the passengers are children rather than on differences in gender identification and sexual orientation. She said she looks back at her own career as a school bus driver and “cringes” at things she said to students that were never meant to hurt them, but very well might have.

“The focus must be respectful and safe behaviours during transport must be our focus,” she added. “You are expected to role model acceptance.”
Order Your OSBA Publications Now!

Visit the OSBA website at and click on the "STORE" tab from the home page to order the following publications. Or click on the links below and go directly to each order form: Once you have completed the necessary order form, scan/email it to or fax to 416-695-9977. 
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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Please address all enquiries and submissions to  Opinions expressed do not necessarily express the opinions of the OSBA or its Board of Directors. Nor does acceptance of advertising constitute endorsement.

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