Bus driver shortage on display in first week back at school

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative
Bus driver shortage on display in first week back at school

A longstanding bus driver shortage has already started to cause problems for the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB) in its first week back at school since the holiday break with several routes suffering delays or cancellations due to employees falling ill with COVID-19.

ETSB Transportation Coordinator Bruce Banfill told The Record that there has always been personnel issues with bus drivers. However, the pandemic has exacerbated an already fragile system. The regular drivers and reserves are stretched thin right now, he explained.

“Unfortunately, yeah, the driver shortage has existed for the last probably five years, you know, they’re not easy to find. What’s happened is the pandemic has amplified that. We did very well until Christmas, but recently, we have three of our reserve drivers in quarantine,” said Banfill.

Sunnyside Elementary School, Lennoxville Elementary School, and Drummondville Elementary School have each dealt with route cancellations this week. But Banfill noted that parents and students were told of the cancellations the night before via the ETSB website and Facebook.

There will always be a lapse in service, Banfill said, adding that it happens to every school board across Quebec, whether it’s a bus being delayed by a few minutes or scrambling to find a backup driver. But, according to Banfill, there haven’t been many problems this year.
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