News

School Bus Cancellation Reporting

February 18, 2021

Today, our delayed and cancelled bus status on our website indicated 17 buses cancelled and I would like to explain clearly what that means.

STSTB currently contracts for 179 school buses to service our bus routes. Each school bus services multiple bus routes each day. Most buses will service a route for one or two early start schools, followed by one or possibly two more routes for late start schools. This is repeated in the afternoon to take students home and, with morning in-classroom only for most of the high school students, there are also additional midday/noon routes this year. We list each of these bus routes separately in our Bus Status delay reporting software and mobile app for a total of 587 routes being serviced by 179 buses each day.

When there is no bus driver available, it will affect multiple bus routes for multiple schools over multiple times a day. Thus the ‘17 buses cancelled’ today on our website is a result of 5 school buses not having drivers available to drive 17 bus routes (multiple schools totaling 9 AM and 8 PM).

Listing all bus routes separately rather than by the bus that services them allows users of our app to subscribe to receive notifications and updates for only the bus routes that affect them.

The number of cancellations we’ve had this year is unprecedented in the history of Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay. While the North American school bus transportation industry has been experiencing a driver shortage situation for number of years, the global pandemic has exasperated the situation causing frequent cancellations of school buses to critical levels in other areas. Our bus operators do have a pool of spare drivers for covering routes when drivers require time off, however, the severe shortage results in them often trying to cover more routes than they have drivers available to cover them. As it is cold and flu season and school bus drivers cannot work from home, we are currently witnessing more frequent cancelations then we saw prior to winter break, but still far better than what we saw at the beginning of the school year.

We are grateful for the exhaustive efforts put forward by our local school bus operators, Iron Range Bus Lines and First Student Canada, in recruiting, training and licensing new school bus drivers this year and encourage anyone interested in joining this profession to reach out to them.

We especially thank all the school bus drivers who continue to drive children to and from school safely every day during this pandemic. It takes a special kind of person to drive a school bus, and this year you have demonstrated that more so than ever.

Craig Murphy

Consortium Manager

Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay

Extreme Cold Warning Ended

The extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada has ended.

We would like to thank parents and students for their patience and understanding during the past four extra challenging days for STSTB as we worked to getting children to and from school and doing so safely for both students and bus drivers during this period of extreme cold weather.

The decision to cancel student transportation is never taken lightly and the challenge in doing so knowing the effects of snow or ice on safely driving a bus in those conditions pales in comparison in deciding to cancel due to extreme cold temperatures without having a predetermined threshold. The varying effects of temperature on the many electronic, air and emission systems required in modern school buses is a concern anytime ambient temperature drops below -30°Celsius and there were buses on the three out of the past four mornings we ran that had severe cold related issues. Our bus operator's team of mechanics, drivers and dispatchers were hard taxed this week as they struggled to get buses running and picking up students. We sincerely appreciate their efforts and dedication.

Some of you have understandably questioned our threshold of -34°Celsius at 6am at the airport for cancelling transportation. Winter grade diesel fuel tends to gel as it approaches -40°Celsius and when it's -34°Celsius in the city, it is generally 3 to 4 degrees colder in the outlying rural areas. Leaving a few degrees 'wiggle' room is prudent since the ambient temperature can drop further between 6am and 8am.

As for the timing, Environment Canada issues current temperature updates once an hour. The 6am reading is the latest we are able to make a decision since the 7am reading would be too late for notifying rural parents and bus drivers.

Why not Windchill? Windchill is what the temperature "feels like" to exposed human skin and does not affect inanimate objects. Our responsibility is to provide transportation based on whether the buses can operate through the duration of the inclement weather event. The amount of time a driver or mechanic is expected to be outside the bus during extreme cold conditions is kept to a minimum which can contribute to determining not to run a bus if it is suffering from a mechanical issue. However, during the worst of the three out four days we operated, 92% of all school bus routes still ran. Whether a student should be outside in extreme cold to catch their bus is a decision to be made by their parent.

A heartfelt thank you to all the amazing school bus drivers, mechanics and dispatchers who pulled together this week to make student transportation happen under very challenging conditions. Once again, you have proven yourselves as being the heroes we need.

Craig Murphy

Consortium Manager

Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay

Secondary Quad 2 Exam and Start of Quad 3 Transportation Schedule

Masks are a Must for Grades 1 - 12 on the Bus

As per the announcement by the Office of the Premier on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, students in grades 1-3 must now also wear a mask when riding the school bus in addition to those in grades 4-12 who already had this requirement. It is also recommended that students in Kindergarten are masked on the bus as well.

New Bus Delay and Cancellation App Launched

STSTB launches delay reporting notification service through the free mobile app “Bus Status”

Getting information about school bus cancellations and delays just got a little bit easier.

Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay (STSTB), which provides transportation services to students of the Lakehead District School Board, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique des Aurores Boréales has launched a new mobile app that will provide subscribers with real-time notifications whenever buses administered by STSTB are delayed by 15 minutes or more. The notifications will come in the form of alerts, which will also include service cancellations due to the ongoing severe driver shortage and adverse weather conditions.

“We are thrilled to offer this new service to help our students and families stay informed with the most up-to-date information in the event of delays or cancellations,” says Craig Murphy, STSTB Consortium Manager.

The app allows subscribers to select the morning and afternoon buses for which they wish to receive updates from a simple drop down menu of all bus routes STSTB manages.

Bus delay and weather cancellation information will also continue to be posted on the STSTB website at www.ststb.ca

For additional information about using the mobile app, please visit www.ststb.ca/bus-status

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

Copyright © Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay

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