School bus companies launch web campaign to attract drivers

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The Ottawa Student Transportation Agency (OSTA) and a group of operators have launched a campaign to try to attract new drivers to address the persistent shortage of drivers in the area.

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The “DriveYellow.ca” effort is described as a multi-pronged campaign, “aiming to inspire people who are interested in work-life balance, who love children, and who want to contribute to their community in a meaningful way to consider driving a school bus or van versus other types of jobs.

Bus operators Roxborough, Voyago, ML Bradley, First Student and Premier are also part of the DriveYellow.ca campaign.

“The driver shortage predates COVID-19, and it has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” Vicky Kyriaco, OSTA’s chief executive and administrative officer, said in a statement.

The primary goal of OSTA is to provide reliable service in September.

“It’s going to take at least 70 pilots,” Kyriaco said in a statement.

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“In order to restore services to previous levels, we would need 120 drivers, and we will continue to work towards that (ultimate) goal.”

Currently, OSTA has contracted the system by combining routes, splitting routes, reassigning students to transit, integrating delays, and other steps.

“Of the 12,000 students whose yellow bus routes were canceled back to school and throughout the year, we currently have approximately 70 students whose transportation continues to be canceled long-term,” Kyriaco said.

The driver shortage is also affecting day-to-day operations as there are no reserve drivers to replace those affected by COVID, undergoing medical procedures and others who cannot work on any given day.

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The microsite includes information on the requirements and steps to become a driver, a list of operator job openings, their service areas, and an online application process.

OC Transpo Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 is promoting the RideYellow.ca campaign to their local members, specifically targeting members considering retirement.

“Many ATU members may have started out as yellow bus drivers before joining OC Transpo. We support OSTA’s efforts to provide transportation services to children throughout the city, while giving our retired members the opportunity to continue providing valuable service in our community,” said Clint Crabtree, President of the Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

For more information, visit rollyellow.ca

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