September 14th, 2020

Cap school bus capacity to stop Durham route cancellations: NDP

DURHAM REGION — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s push to cap school bus capacity is critical to maintaining full service on Durham region routes.

On Monday, bus route cancellations forced families in Bowmanville, Cobourg, Port Hope and beyond to find another way to get their kids to school. That’s almost entirely because Doug Ford’s plan to cram busses to 100 per cent capacity has forced school bus drivers worried about their health to look for other work. On Monday morning, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath proposed that school busses all be capped at 50 per cent capacity to bring those drivers back, and get all kids to school safely.

“No parent wants to watch their child pile onto a crowded school bus where physical distancing is not possible in the middle of a pandemic,” said Jennifer French, NDP MPP for Oshawa. “Now there might be days when the school bus doesn’t show up at all for Durham families who depend on them.

“Drivers are understandably anxious about their safety on the job and reluctant to return to work, thanks to Doug Ford’s risky scheme to run school busses at full capacity. By refusing to better protect students and drivers on school busses, Ford is taking an existing bus driver shortage and making it even worse.”

The Ford government declined to commit to Horwath’s proposed 50-per-cent cap on school bus capacity, and continues to refuse to make classes smaller and safer.

“Durham families deserve so much better, and so do the bus drivers committed to getting their kids to and from school safely,” said French. “We should be capping bus cohorts and hiring bus drivers, not packing busses to capacity and scaring drivers off the job.

“I am urging the Ford government to act now, so that checking for daily school bus route cancellations doesn’t become part of the ‘new normal’ for Durham families.”