Significant decrease in bus route cancellations according to accountability report

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division’s transportation accountability report shows bus route cancellations decreased significantly this school year. There has also been a small decrease in students transported year over year.

The Sask. Rivers board got a look at the report during their regular meeting on Monday. It shows 369 routes cancelled over the entire school year. That’s a decrease from the 1,175.5 cancellations the year before.

Board chair Darlene Rowden said the changes were mostly due to a mild winter.

“You don’t have to cancel because we’re digging out from another storm or stuff like that, that was a big reason,” Rowden said.

Weather was the biggest cause of cancellations with 332.5 days. There were also 24 days cancelled because a substitute driver was not available, with no data available on whether those were COVID-19 related. There were also 12.5 days cancelled due to mechanical issues.

“It’s your bus mechanic’s keeping those busses in top shape to make sure the routes are filled and you’re not down for mechanical reasons,” Rowden said.
Rowden gave credit to Pidborochynski, Manager of Transportation Services Ryan Bruce and the entire crew in transportation for the excellent year.

According to the report, recruiting and hiring bus drivers continues to be a challenge. This problem is particularly acute in substitute drivers as the division continues to have all regular routes filled.

This was the third report since the board requested more depth and greater detail. Each division in Saskatchewan receives this report from the Ministry of Education four times a year to see how the division’s buses, drivers and mechanics are doing. The report is done semi-annually in the division.

The oral report was given by Chief Financial Officer Jerry Pidborochynski and outlined a broader report because of a board request.

The report featured data up to June 15, 2023. The number of students transported has decreased slightly from the previous report 1for the year 2022. In 2023 there were 3,196 students transported compared to 3,487in 2022.

Numbers transported changed because of the transition to some city transport for Prince Albert high school students and declining rural student populations. Over the span of the year, students in Saskatchewan Rivers purchased 1,809 city bus passes according to the report.

The average age of the bus fleet has decreased from eight years in 2022 to seven a and half years in 2023 because of some new buses coming into service. There are currently 106 transportation routes with 25 contracted out.

The average urban one-way bus ride is 15 minutes while the average rural bus ride one way is 29 minutes. The longest urban one-way bus ride is 80 minutes and the longest rural one-way bus ride is 90 minutes.

There were five reported complaints of a serious nature which were dealt with including one case of children running beside a bus as it was moving.