We understand service disruptions are causing tremendous difficulties for families throughout the city and OSTA is working diligently with our partners to address circumstances to the best of our abilities. We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation during these unprecedented challenges.
As of Monday, September 14, 2020, OSTA has had to cancel 39 routes due to a severe driver shortage. We have been able to reinstate one route in the west end. Most of these routes will remain cancelled until drivers return to work, or new drivers are fully trained and licensed. We anticipate this service disruption to continue for several weeks, if not months.
Most van and wheelchair routes have been covered for registered students attending in-person Special Education programs and system classes.
OSTA’s priority is student safety and stabilizing the system. To this end, no significant route changes will be implemented this week. This will allow parents, students, drivers and schools to get acclimatized to the new routine. OSTA and Operators must be confident the remaining driver pool will show up to work, day to day before changing any service.
Van service is also experiencing a driver shortage, although not as significantly as yellow buses. We are only accepting address changes for current eligible students assigned to vans at this time. All other requests for additional service for new students, modified schedules and compassionate reasons are currently on hold.
Adjusting and Re-Designing
We will be evaluating opportunities for changes to be implemented next week on yellow bus which could include: moving more grade 7-12 students to OC Transpo, combining runs with low ridership into one run, adding students from cancelled routes to existing routes, congregated stops, and so on. These changes must be confirmed by drivers affected by the changes to gain their acceptance. It is possible that many drivers will not agree to increased numbers of students on their route, or to take on new routes.
OSTA will coordinate increased van service with each school board’s Special Education department as drivers become available in various areas of the city this week and next.
Prioritization of Coverage
Where possible, OSTA will prioritize return to service in the following manner:
1) Rural areas outside the Urban Transit Area and students with special needs
2) High needs school communities, as identified by school boards (RAISE)
Return to service will occur when a consistent driver is available to perform the route or if portions of the route are successfully added to an existing route.
Parents are being directed to check the Parent Portal for their child’s route information and then to verify the website Route Cancellation list on a daily basis. The list is being updated daily after 5pm and again in the morning as routes are cancelled.
Early morning route cancellations will be sent to email subscribers affected by the change. A list of routes cancelled on short-notice will also be shared with standard media and on social media.
Students on cancelled routes where service is being reinstated will be sent a notice through their school.
OSTA’s website was slow this morning and IT staff are working on improving speed.