Author Archives: OSTA News

Winter Walk Month – February 1st to 28th

Stay active this winter by walking to school the whole way or part of the way!

Did you know that walking or rolling to school not only improves children’s health but can help improve academic performance? The increased physical activity improves alertness and attention span during the school day! An active school commute also reduces road congestion in school zones and greenhouse gas emissions – it’s a win-win for everyone!

Check out these activity ideas to celebrate Winter Walk Month

Animal Characters walking to school in winter clothing
Download the Hop! App today!

• Learn about pedestrian safety tips and have fun by colouring in this Colouring Book.
• Do a scavenger hunt in your neighbourhood by completing this I Spy Bingo Game.
• Practice your math and colouring skills by filling out this Count My Steps Activity.
• Track your active trips and earn treasures with the free, kid-friendly HOP! App and log your walks to school or in the community to be entered in a random prize draw to win a $50 gift card from Indigo/Chapters. www.123hop.ca
• Create your own Wordle game with winter walking words.
• Use the hashtags #GetYourWalkOn, #JourneyOutside, and #WinterWalkDay2023, on social media to share your journey.

For Teachers

Walking and wheeling to and from school is a great way to encourage physical activity among children and youth. Why not plan a Winter Walk Day at your school this February to encourage students to discover the benefits of physical activity?

Check out OSTA’s website for more resources and ideas

• Download our Toolkit for ideas, planning tips and tools to help you plan a winter walk day event this February.
• Apply for a Pitter Patter Grant to help offset some of the costs of your event.
• Encourage participation at your school by downloading and printing participation certificates and posting them in high-traffic areas at your school.
• If your school has a large number of students who travel by school bus, consider a school-wide outdoor event during the school day.
• Ottawa teachers are encouraged to join the Hop! Winter Walk Classroom Challenge. The classroom team that logs the most kilometres in the month of February will win a $100 gift card. Classroom teachers can create a team and join the challenge by emailing [email protected].  

Connect with EnviroCentre
To learn more about the School Active Transportation Program, visit envirocentre.ca/school-active-transportation.
Sign up for the quarterly School Active Transportation newsletter HERE.

Student Public Transit Survey – We want to hear from you!

OSTA is conducting a survey to learn more about your trip to and from school using OC Transpo. We encourage any student currently using OC Transpo for school purposes to fill out the survey by January 31, 2023

Do you take public transit to school? We want to hear from you! If you are currently taking OC Transpo to get to and from school, then fill out this short online survey:

Winter is Coming – Are You Ready for Inclement Weather?

OSTA’s decision on whether to cancel services or not weighs the degree of risk based on each weather event and its effect on our environment and the potential for accidents. Student safety is always our priority.

OSTA’s transportation system serves urban, suburban and rural communities. We also recognize weather conditions can vary from community to community.

Cancelled Services

OSTA’s decision to cancel services must consider the forecasted weather for the entire school day. Whether the risk is too high during the morning service or anticipated to be too high during the afternoon service, a decision is made by 5:30 a.m.

OC Transpo, however, continues to operate, and students may use public transit to get to their school. Schools remain open, and students will be welcomed, as usual. Ottawa Safety Council determines service cancellations for OSTA’s Walking School Bus routes.

Parents’/Guardians’ Decision

Parents and guardians have the choice of whether to access OSTA’s transportation services during a weather event or whether to keep their children at home. Conversely, parents and guardians may also choose to take their children to school when transportation services are cancelled. If they do so, they must also make arrangements to pick their children up at the end of the school day.

Communication Channels

There are many ways parents/guardians and students may get information regarding OSTA’s service cancellations:


Daily – OSTA reviews forecast reports from various accredited sources. If a weather event is expected, which may significantly impact safety, OSTA proceeds to further steps.

4:00 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. – OSTA reviews the forecast and examines current weather patterns from various sources, including weather radars. OSTA communicates with neighbouring consortia and other transportation partners to get their input on conditions in their area. OSTA may also conduct a road test.

5:30 a.m. – OSTA decides whether or not to cancel transportation. If the decision is made to cancel services, OSTA begins its communication protocol.

6:15 a.m. – OSTA communication protocol is complete.

Weather Conditions to Consider

There are many conditions, in combination, that increase risk. There is no absolute determinant for service cancellations. Conditions are evaluated as a whole to determine risk:

  • Type of Precipitation (Snow/Rain/Snow-Rain Mix)
  • Amount and Rate of Precipitation
  • Air/Road temperature and dew point
  • Wind speeds/wind gusts affect bus/van stability on icy surfaces, visibility related to the rate of precipitation and or blowing in open spaces
  • The condition of roads at the time of weather events such as bare pavement, patchy ice, glare ice, icy ruts, packed snow, loose accumulation, slushy, slick and combinations.
  • The visibility such as the line of sight to distance, visibility of roadway, blowing snow coming down or across sightline, snow drifts, etc.
  • The probability of precipitation may be low, mid-range or high, combined with expected accumulation (low, medium, high volumes) determines the likelihood of anticipated weather effect actually occurring at the estimated times
  • Radar models show consistent path across the region or potential re-direction

No Temperature Thresholds

Throughout the winter, temperatures may dip as low as -25C to -35C plus wind chill. Ottawa Public Health provides a “frostbite warning” or a “frostbite advisory”. Parents must always take the appropriate precautions to dress their children warmly, preferably in layered clothing, coat and snow pants with hat and mittens or gloves and a face cover where necessary. They must also stay with their children at the bus stop.

OSTA does not have a temperature threshold at which it will cancel services, except if the equipment is adversely affected and buses cannot start in the extreme cold. That would generally require an ambient temperature (no wind chill) of -40C or lower, which is highly unusual in the Ottawa Region.

Read more about inclement weather.

Empty Seat/Courtesy Seating remains temporarily suspended

Megaphone announcing important information

The Empty Seat/Courtesy Seating Program remains temporarily suspended due to an ongoing driver shortage resulting in disruptive long-term and short-term delays and cancellations. The situation will be re-evaluated in mid-January for potential implementation in March only if transportation services have stabilized.

If parents are finding their own means of transportation to school, it is recommended that active transportation is used to get to school as much as possible. Walking and rolling the whole way or part of the way will reduce traffic around the school.

We have many great programs and resources designed to help students who are walking, rolling or being driven to school. Visit our website to learn more about OSTA’s Walking School Bus, Walk-a-Block maps, Walk & Roll Meetup, Walking Route Maps, and Pedestrian Safety Tips.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through another unprecedented school year.

PRESTO Sign-In Process Changes – Verified Email now Required

To all student PRESTO users,

Graphic Image of a student holding a PRESTO card.

PRESTO has recently changed its sign-in process for all users, including students using PRESTO cards. As of October 29th, PRESTO users will no longer be able to access their PRESTO account using a username. Students must now use a verified email address to sign into their account on the PRESTOCARD.CA website.

For students who have previously used a username to sign into their PRESTO account, you will now be required to add and verify an email address to access your account. Please follow the steps on the PRESTOCARD.CA website to learn how to convert a username into a verified email address.

For students who have not created an account yet:

Reminder: Students should register their cards to protect the balance if lost, stolen or damaged. Registration allows students to get a replacement card quickly and transfer the balance (school board pass) to a new card.

Some schools take care of registering their students’ PRESTO cards, if you can’t register your card, it’s likely the school has already registered it for you.

Please also note that there is no need to ACTIVATE a School Board Issued Presto card! OSTA has already activated it.

For more information, visit our website.