School divisions across the province continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to the lack of bus drivers, which has caused disruptions or even temporary cancellations to routes.
Locally, the Prairie South School Division (PSSD) says with the exception of two routes in the southern part of the division they are in good shape when it comes to bus drivers.
“We’ve had luck filling the routes, but it’s fair to say we don’t have an abundance of spare drivers,” Ryan Boughen, PSSD Director of Education.
“Sometimes what happens is that when we need to fill a route if we have a spare driver around, they will fill that route but then we don’t have a spare. The spare drivers provide spare services for a few drivers in an area. Our biggest challenge this year is that we’re pretty lean on spare drivers,” adds Boughen.
Last week, the PSSD conducted a number of interviews to try and add more spare and primary bus drivers to the transportation fleet. Boughen could not provide the exact number of interviews.
Boughen explains that being a bus driver is a large time commitment throughout the entire year, and that’s why they want to have an abundance of spare drivers.
“A lot of our drivers are people that might farm or do other things and want to be able to take a little bit of time off. We rely on our spare bus drivers to fill in so they can have a little bit of a break to do some of those things they want to do personally. It’s nice to have spare drivers around!”
Another thing to add is that it’s not as easy as just driving a bus, there is a rigorous application process to become a driver within the school division.
“All of our drivers have to pass a written exam, they have to pass a circle check, and pass that circle check by memory, along with having to pass an SGI drivers test.”
What a circle check is they have to be able to walk around the exterior and interior and identify things they have to look for while being graded by an SGI tester, making the application process tough.
“A driver who wants to drive for us might pass one or two of those pieces and then have to go back and retake one of the components, and sometimes that takes some time. That can cause some challenges with the filling of the position process as well.”
As the school year wears on and with the weather changing and flu season coming into effect, the need for spare bus drivers will be crucial, to replace those that may get sick or are unable to make it to work.
"It's one of those things where you can always use more people that are interested in doing the work,"