Central Okanagan schools hit by severe bus driver shortage | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan schools hit by severe bus driver shortage


Central Okanagan Public Schools is experiencing a severe bus driver shortage resulting in frequent school bus route cancellations.

A driver shortage is widespread across the province but since September 2021, 16 out of 70 bus drivers in the Central Okanagan school district have retired, according to a staff report which will be presented to school board members, May 4.

“In order for the department to have the least impact on student transportation, we have amalgamated bus routes in three separate areas across the district to offset the loss of drivers that we have not been able to replace,” Mitch Van Aller, director of operations, said in the report.

The training and hiring of new drivers is ongoing and bus driver recruitment campaigns have led to new applications for positions being accepted but the retired drivers will not be replaced until September 2022.

Once the new drivers have come onboard, “amalgamated routes can return to normal and the need to cancel bus routes will lessen substantially,” according to the report.

A total of 4,549 Central Okanagan students use the bus. The district's total enrolment is 23,000 students.

There are 70 routes in the school district including 11 special needs routes.

The Central Okanagan school district has the largest transportation fleet in the province.

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