Transportation to and from school has become an issue and extremely disruptive this year for parents and Stittsville students with the cancellation of some school bus routes for those attending Goulbourn Middle School and South Carleton High School. Thirty-one out of 55 school bus routes to public schools and 15 out of 28 routes to Catholic schools in Kanata and Stittsville have been cut. Routes from Stittsville to schools offering specialized programs at Canterbury and Merivale have also been cut. There is currently a shortage of school bus drivers.
Due to the route cuts, Councillor Allan Hubley, Chair of Ottawa Transit, sent a letter to the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) on September 16th. In the letter the Councillor asked how OSTA determines the bus routes to be cut and the criteria used? He points out the numerous routes cut specifically in the Stittsville/Kanata area of Ottawa. Following is Councillor Hubley’s letter to OSTA:
“Firstly, I want to preface this letter by saying that I am grateful for the work that has been and is being done by OSTA to provide school buses to our city’s students and to get the kids to school safely everyday.
However, I do have questions regarding the recent cuts to service due to a lack of drivers that I would appreciate answers on.
How do you determine which routes to cut?
What specific criteria resulted in cutting so many routes in the city’s west end?
It has been brought to my attention that 31 OCDSB routes out of 55 and 15 OCSB routes out of 28 in Kanata/Stittsville were cut. That means that 55 per cent of your cancelled routes are from 3 wards, leaving hundreds of students without a school bus.
Why were west end routes cut to schools with specialized programs, like Canterbury and Merivale, with students coming from all over the city?
This has resulted in students relying on OC Transpo routes or other means to get to school and parents are telling me their children are now spending 3+ hours commuting to and from school every day.
I along with the parents of these children, would just like to know why so many Kanata/Stittsville bus routes were cancelled?
Again, I do appreciate the service by the dedicated bus drivers at OSTA and look forward to getting back to full service in the future.”
We spoke with Councillor Gower on Friday afternoon regarding the cuts and to find out if there was any further news for students on the cancelled Stittsville routes.
The Councillor informed us that, “routes to South Carleton High School have been restored, with the exception of one route, for which a driver is in training and expected to begin in two weeks. In the interim, OC Transpo is filling the gap with Route 283 travelling in the morning from Carp Road and Stittsville Main at 6:54am. Starting Monday, September 20, OC Transpo Route 283 will now will depart South Carleton at 2:25pm and will drop off the students at Carp Road and Stittsville Main.” Note that a PRESTO card or a cash payment is required to ride these routes. If you require more information, visit the octranspo.com website.
OSTA is currently amending their routes to accommodate school bus service for all students travelling by bus to Goulbourn Middle School.
For Stittsville students attending the specialized programs at Canterbury and Merivale, Councillor Gower said, “OC Transpo has put in place new routes to run from Terry Fox Drive to Hazeldean Mall and will continue on to the appropriate schools.” Again, a PRESTO card or cash payment is required. The routes are as follows:
- Route 88 will run from Terry Fox to Canterbury – leaving Terry Fox at 7:35 a.m. arriving at Canterbury at 8:58 a.m.
- Route 88 will run from Canterbury to Terry Fox – leaving Canterbury at 3:27 p.m.
- Route 688 will run from Terry Fox to Merivale High School – two buses leaving Terry Fox at 7 a.m. arriving at Merivale High School at 7:50 a.m.
- Route 688 will run from Merivale High School to Terry Fox – leaving Merivale at 2:30 p.m.
Councillor Gower realizes that it has been a difficult first couple of weeks for parents and those students taking the bus. He wants to thank everyone who got in touch with his office and for the patience shown, so he could work with parents, school board officials, OC Transpo and OSTA to attempt to rectify the situation.
As updates become available, Councillor Gower will share these with the community.
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