Curious what goes into the decision making for Student Transportation Services of Ontario (STSCO) in Peterborough on how they decide on school bus cancellations? In his own words, here is what Joel Sloggett—Chief Administrative Officer with STSCO—says are the key factors that goes into their thinking...
1. When it comes to bus and transportation service cancellation decision making, our priority consideration is the safety of students. The journey to school for many students involves walking to a bus stop, waiting for the bus, boarding the bus and travelling through its route on the way to school, with the opposite occurring for the afternoon ride home. Looking at this journey, safety considerations include the students walking to stops, standing along roadsides and then travelling on the bus. The bottom line is that we must collectively focus on children’s safety and err on the side of caution as necessary.
2. In terms of the steps in the decision making process, STSCO and its bus companies work together to monitor forecasts and weather alerts on a daily basis throughout the school year. When a winter weather forecast calls for inclement weather—such as significant freezing rain or significant snow and poor visibility—we are on heightened alert.
3.Bus companies and myself, or my designate, coordinate beginning at about 5:30 a.m. on the day of inclement weather. Companies have drivers and staff who are dispersed across our three county jurisdiction (Peterborough, Northumberland and Clarington) and who assist in weather monitoring. We also contact municipal roads officials when necessary to discuss the situation.
4. If it is determined that weather warrants consideration of busing cancellation for one or more of the three county areas, our goal is to post the same on our website and on social media [Twitter and Facebook] by 6:00 a.m. We also communicate such decisions to radio and television outlets so they can help get the word out.
5. STSCO’s website has a function on the main page where families can sign up for automatic alerts regarding bus cancellations and delays. This is particularly useful on days when a small number of bus routes are cancelled (as opposed to the regional cancellation) or on days when some routes are delayed for any reason—weather related or not. (Note: Sometimes individual routes have to be cancelled due to the particular area or roads travelled and an example might be routing in the far northern part of our jurisdiction where weather might be a concern while it is not in the rest of the County or area.)
6. Families can also access delay and cancellation information on our website directly by pressing on the Delay and Cancellation Exception button on the right side of the main page.
7. It should be emphasized again that all involved in inclement weather decision making are committed to ensuring safe transport of students while also understanding that any cancellation decisions have an impact on families as arrangements need to be made to ensure young children are taken care of during the cancelled transportation day. Over the years, bus companies and ourselves have done the best job possible in making the right decisions and meeting expectations for getting students to school safely.