News

Seat Belts on School Buses

October 15, 2018

The Fifth Estate recently ran a segment entitled “Unbuckled: School Bus Safety" (https://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2018-2019/unbuckled-school-bus-safety). The segment highlights a previously unreleased report dated 2010 from a researcher at Transport Canada which concluded that seat belts would be beneficial if a school bus was involved in a side-impact or roll-over collision. This is in contrast to the previously held Transport Canada position still present on its website that “Transport Canada has no evidence that three-point seat belts would improve the overall level of safety on a school bus.” (https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/tp-tp2436-rs200407-menu-130.htm)

Transport Canada is the regulatory body at the federal level and is responsible for setting standards to direct the school bus industry and the broader transportation sector at large. When collisions involving school buses do occur, very few critical injuries or fatalities have occurred in the industry across Canada (24 in the last 34 years). Transport Canada is responsible for establishing the standards to which vehicles must be built, and provincially, the Ministry of Transportation is responsible for carrier inspections and compliance to keep the roadways safe.

The school bus industry has relied on the built infrastructure of the bus (compartmentalization) as a key safety factor. The seat height, distance and padding protect occupants during a collision by absorption of force. However, compartmentalization has now come under scrutiny as it is may not be as effective during side-impacts or rollovers as acknowledged by the Transport Canada researcher in the on-air segment.

The media attention arising from the Fifth Estate segment represents an opportunity to participate in a broader conversation on the importance of school bus safety with regulatory stakeholders at Transport Canada and the Ministry of Transportation. The discussion is timely in light of the newly-passed federal regulation requiring all medium and large highway coaches to be equipped with seat belts as of 2020. School boards and consortia will continue to actively participate in important conversations that support student well-being and safety.

In the Province of Ontario, 40% of students are transported by school purpose vehicles each day. 830,000 students travel more than 1.8 million kilometres per day on 19,000 school purpose vehicles between their homes and schools or more than 310 million passenger trips per year travelling over 673 million kilometers.

School buses remain one of the safest forms of travel. School bus drivers have special licencing requirements, including defensive driving techniques, with scheduled mandatory refresher training. Driver training combined with pre and post trip inspection protocols and MTO regulated vehicle inspection schedules also contribute to the high safety rating of the school bus industry. Statistics on motor vehicle collisions of all types can be found in the Ministry of Transportation’s Annual Road Safety Report (http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/publications/ontario-road-safety-annual-report.shtml).

School Bus Safety Week is next week (October 22-26, 2018). With the additional attention on vital importance of school bus safety, this is also an opportunity to ask parents and guardians to remind their students of key safety messages when they are on board – be seated and remain seated for the entire ride, take the backpack off and hold it or stow it under the seat and on board behaviour play vital roles in ensuing everyone has a safe ride.

Important Dates to Remember

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - Early Dismissal for St. Ignatius and St. Patrick High Schools. Buses depart at 12:10pm
  • Friday, October 26, 2018 - PA Day for Thunder Bay Catholic Elementary schools.
  • Friday, November 16, 2018 - PA Day for ALL SCHOOLS

October is Walk to School Month

International Walk to School Month (IWALK) is an annual mass celebration of active transportation taking place around the world every October. Hundreds of Ontario schools participate in IWALK each year, with many holding their events on IWALK Day, the first Wednesday of October. Talk to your school about planning and participating in IWalk events.

More information on Active School Transportation: www.ststb.ca/en/about/active-school-transportation

Transportation Request Schedule for the Start of the School Year.

Due to the extremely high volume of requests received for changes to transportation at this time year, we are once again implementing a modified schedule for requesting changes and effective dates for those changes during the lead up and start of the new school year.

In order to finalize bus routes for the first day of school and give bus drivers time to learn the routes, requests for changes to transportation must be submitted before 4:00 PM on Wednesday, August 29, 2018.

Requests submitted between 4:00 PM, Wednesday, August 29, 2018 and 4:00 PM Friday, September 7, 2018, if approved, will be effective on Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

Requests submitted between 4:00 PM, Friday, September 7, 2018 and 4:00 PM Friday, September 14, 2018, if approved, will be effective on Wednesday, September 19, 2018.

For students attending all Thunder Bay Catholic schools, écoles catholiques Aurores boréales and Lakehead Public Elementary schools, phone your school to request changes.

For students attending all Lakehead Public secondary schools, phone STSTB.

Clarification on School Bus Transportation Eligibility

School bus transportation is offered for students meeting minimum distance requirements from their school based on grade in order to assist in travelling to and from school:

JK/SK: 400 meters (Current provincial average: 1000 meters)

Grades 1 – 3: 800 meters (Current provincial average: 1400 meters)

Grades 4 – 8: 1600 meters (Current provincial average: 2300 meters)

Grades 9 – 12: 1600 meters (Current provincial average: 3000 meters)

The distance policies of the three local school boards have not changed since Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay was formed in 2008. As students get older and progress through the grades, so may their eligibility for school bus transportation.

For students residing closer than these distances to their school the expectation is for their parents to ensure they get to and from school safely.

Lakehead District School Board, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boréales are proud to continue to provide school bus transportation with some of the lowest eligibility distance policies in the province.

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Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay is a student busing consortium by these 3 school boards:

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Suite 2001, 715 Hewitson St. Thunder Bay, ON. P7B 6B5 • Phone: (807) 625-1660 • Fax: (807) 622-5818