Transportation Update for the Return to School 2023-24

Last Updated on: 21st September 2023, 09:57 am

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 ( to attract new drivers to the workforce.

The Parent Portal is now Open

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.

Single Ride Voucher (SRV) 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.

Back to School Safety

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.

Empty Seat/Courtesy Seating Suspended for the 2023/24 School Year

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.

Students New to OC Transpo

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 before the upcoming school year for exact bus stop locations and times nearest to their homes.

Choosing to Drive? Let OSTA Know

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.