We understand there have been challenges with our student transportation system, and we want to assure you that OSTA staff is working diligently to address these issues. We are making progress, and we are committed to finding alternate transportation solutions for those who are currently without service.
Since September 5th, 94 runs have been reinstated. Notices have been sent out to the parents/guardians advising them of these new changes. For the full list of reinstated routes please click this link: Full List of Reinstated Routes to date
Stabilizing the system (2-3 weeks)
Evaluating and implementing short-term solutions (several weeks to months)
Exploring longer-term solutions: (30 days to 3 months)
It is important to note that these solutions will take time to implement. Our staff needs to explore options, establish agreements with potential vendors, make changes to routes, and communicate with drivers and parents/guardians. We appreciate your continued patience and understanding throughout this process.
If you know anyone who may be interested in becoming a bus driver, we encourage you to spread the word about www.driveyellow.ca. This website provides comprehensive information about qualifications, training, operators, and an easy application process.
Thank you for your ongoing support as we work to improve our transportation services. We are committed to finding effective solutions and providing reliable transportation for our students.
On Wednesday, September 13th, OSTA updated School Board Trustees and City Councillors about the ongoing driver shortage and provided information on the next steps. Please watch the presentation below.
N.B. The Ministry of Education provided a one-time additional funding allocation of $1.8M to be shared between OCSB and OCDSB. The total funding allocation to OCSB and OCDSB is therefore $76,860,721 for the 2023-2024 school year.
OSTA staff is working diligently to get our transportation system up and running for the first day of school. We understand that many students do not have transportation available due to long-term cancellations and this is frustrating and disappointing. More than 65,000 students are still accessing the system, however, and we are currently working with Operators to ensure their service is safe and timely.
OSTA fully commits to looking and finding alternate transportation solutions for many of those whose transportation is unavailable. Our intention is to begin making changes to the system to address service disruptions in two weeks, once we can be confident that the system is reasonably stable. OSTA staff also need time to find the options, make agreements with potential vendors, make changes to routes, contact drivers and parents/guardians and finally, deliver the new service.
In the meantime, for those residing in the Urban Transit Area, OSTA is making Single Ride Vouchers available for students and their parents/guardians/caretakers to take OC Transpo to and from school on already established routes.
If you know anyone who may be interested in becoming a bus driver, or have a large community network through social media, we encourage you to spread the word about www.driveyellow.ca. This website provides all the information necessary to learn about qualifications, training, operators and has an easy application process.
We appreciate your patience during these trying times.
Over the Spring and Summer, the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) successfully negotiated contracts with all but one bus company serving Ottawa area schools. Despite OSTA’s best efforts, with the loss of one of the bus companies (that served 36 bus routes) and the ongoing driver shortage, there will be transportation disruptions for many students at the Ottawa Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board.
While OSTA has successfully secured transportation for most students in the Ottawa area, we understand this news is frustrating and challenging for families affected by cancellations. We are working with our other bus operators to devise viable solutions for affected routes. We have also continued to support our Operators with driver recruitment efforts through another multi-pronged driver recruitment campaign (driveyellow.ca) to attract new drivers to the workforce.
OSTA understands that accurate and timely transportation information is essential for parents and students preparing for their school day. Parents/guardians are directed to check the Parent Portal for their child’s route information on Wednesday, August 30, and then regularly verify the website’s Route Cancellation lists.
Long term cancellations
Any cancellations lasting longer than a few days are posted to the long-term OCDSB and OCSB cancellation lists on OSTA’s website. We recommend parents/guardians check this list immediately after verifying their child(ren)’s transportation information on the portal.
Short-term cancellations and delays
Day-to-day short-term cancellations (including weather-related cancellations) are posted to our delay and notification page, and subscribers are notified by via email as they happen.
We encourage parents and guardians to remain vigilant, check OSTA’s website daily, and sign up for notifications through the Parent Portal to ensure they receive the latest delay and cancellation information.
OSTA understands the pressure put upon families who do not have transportation on a yellow bus due to long-term cancellations as the result of driver shortages. As a temporary measure, we would like to provide families living within the Urban Transit Area with Single Ride Vouchers (SRV) so that young students (who are eligible for transportation) and a responsible person to accompany them (16 yrs and older) may use public transit to get to and from school every day, within the Urban Transit Area. Please note that public transportation is free for children 12 and under.
The application only needs to be made once. SRVs will be sent to schools every two weeks and will be distributed to students to bring home as long as yellow bus or van transportation remains unavailable. Once service on a yellow bus or van is reinstated on a long-term basis, SRVs will no longer be sent to the school. Please continue to check your school board’s cancellation list on OSTA’s website regularly for status updates.
Parents/guardians share a role in reinforcing school bus safety. Please take the time to review school bus safety procedures with your child before school starts and several times throughout the school year. The safe transportation of our children to and from school concerns all of us.
Parents and guardians are expected to meet their kindergarten child(ren) in person at the vehicle when the vehicle arrives at the bus stop or to make arrangements at the school to identify a responsible individual to meet their child. Failure to meet kindergarten child(ren) at the bus stop is not only a safety issue and causes delays for the bus routes, it may result in termination of transportation services.
It is also extremely important to keep the Yellow KG Tag on your kindergarten child(ren)’s backpack as that quickly alerts the bus driver that the child must be met at the stop. If your child no longer has the Yellow KG tag on their backpack, please request another one from your school’s office administrator.
Student safety is of utmost importance to OSTA. We strongly encourage parents/guardians to stay with their children at the stop until the bus arrives in the morning, as delays may occur.
Due to operational pressures and the ongoing driver shortage resulting in long-term cancellations, the Empty Seat/Courtesy Seating Program is suspended for the 2023/24 school year.
Active transportation is recommended to get to and from school as much as possible. Walking and rolling the whole way or part of the way (Walk-a-Block), will reduce traffic around the school and improve safety for all.
We have many great programs and resources designed to help students walking, rolling or being driven to school. Visit our active transportation page to learn more about OSTA’s Walk-a-Block maps, Walk & Roll Meetup, Walking Route Maps, and Pedestrian Safety Tips.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
This September, many grade 7-12 students will be assigned to take OC Transpo to school. OC Transpo is a convenient option for students, allowing them the freedom to use their free Presto School Board Card for extra-curricular activities, commitments or attending part-time jobs. OC Transpo has been working with OSTA to prepare routes to accommodate the number of students expected to ride this year.
A free Presto School Board Pass, valid from September to June 30, will be issued to eligible students. Students will be notified by their school at the beginning of September when their Presto cards are available for pickup.
For information on taking public transit for first-time riders, please visit our Public Transit Information Page. OSTA and OC Transpo have developed additional resources on our website, including helpful videos and an FAQ to help guide those new to public transit. We recommend families visit plan.octranspo.com/plan before the upcoming school year for exact bus stop locations and times nearest to their homes.
Are you eligible for transportation but not planning to use it? Complete OSTA’s Transportation Issues Form to notify us of your decision to decline transportation. Whether you decline transportation for the current school year and/or the next, keeping OSTA informed is important. This allows us to ensure better use of available transportation services.
It is important to contact the school with any address changes (home/daycare) to keep OSTA’s records up to date.
Please review the Ottawa Safety Council’s website reguarly as they have provided an update on locations that may not have Crossing Guards present at the morning or afternoon bell times.
Who are Ottawa’s Crossing Guards? They are dedicated, professional and reliable members of our community that care about our children’s safety. Every day, in neighbourhoods all across the City of Ottawa, OSC Crossing Guards work to ensure students wheel, walk, jog or roll to and from school and their homes safely. Get to know your Crossing Guard – smile and say hello, including when you see them away from their posting and out in the community.
The OSC is currently recruiting School Crossing Guards for the upcoming school year. For information on becoming a Crossing Guard, please visit their website.