Bus driver shortages persist in Chignecto Central

School bus service in the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education continues to be a problem, families say. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)
School bus service in the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education continues to be a problem, families say. (David Bell/CBC - image credit)

The problem of late and cancelled buses in the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education is only getting worse, families say.

Angela Diggins of Portapique, N.S., said teachers sometimes give students a drive to school when buses are cancelled.

"Basically weekly," she said. "At least once a week and sometimes more than that."

Diggins's daughter is a Grade 11 student at Cobequid Education Centre. She takes two buses every morning.

One bus takes her from Portapique to Great Village. A second bus picks her up at Great Village and takes her to her high school in Truro.

She takes two more buses to get home in the afternoon.

Diggins said when a bus is cancelled her daughter gets a lift to school from a teacher who lives nearby.

Angela Diggins
Angela Diggins

"She said that she would be happy to bring Jade in every time that there is no bus," Diggins said. "I just feel bad for her to have to do more than what her job is already."

She worries that things will only get worse for everyone when the winter weather arrives.

Low numbers of casual bus drivers

Chris Zwicker, the centre's director of operational services, said last month that the school district was struggling to build up a supply of casual drivers. He said the centre had a sufficient number of staff drivers, but no spares.

He said families outside of Truro could expect to share the pain. If shortages persisted, some drivers would have to leave regular routes to serve another community.

Diggins said that's happening in Portapique. She said the bus driver who serves Bible Hill will leave those families there to fend for themselves in order to give students from Portapique a drive.

"So [the driver] will miss a few days in Bible Hill and then the next week she'll be missing a few days in Portapique," she said. "It's definitely not a repair. It's a Band-Aid, at best."

Diggins said her daughter will stay home on days when there is no bus service once winter sets in.

"We've already told our daughter to tell her teachers that if there is no bus running she'll just have to … work from home and they'll just have to accommodate that."

No one from the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education was available for comment on Monday.

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