Ontario School Bus Industry at Critical Point

Safe, On-Time Service Threatened, says study

Further cuts to student
transportation budgets could
threaten the future of Ontarios
school bus industry, a study conducted
by Ernst and Young indicates.

"The results of this survey have
startling implications
not only for the industry, but for
school boards and for the provincial
government," said Wes Douglas,
Partner, Ernst and Young.

The survey, which examined
economic and service trends in
the school bus industry between
1991 to 1995, found that
reductions in school board
transportation budgets have
brought the school bus industry
to a critical point. "Our
survey shows that because of
reduced income and cash flow,
school bus operators have not
been able to replace their
vehicles as often as they have
traditionally. If these trends are
allowed to continue, it will eventually
jeopardize an operators ability to
keep providing safe, secure, on-time
student transportation," said Douglas.

According to the study, fewer
buses are being used to
transport more students than
ever and the wear and tear is
starting to show. Buses are
running farther and more
frequently a 40 per cent
increase in the kilometers
driven per vehicle on average.

"We are transporting almost
22,000 more students on close
to 2,000 fewer buses compared to
four years ago," said
Richard Donaldson, Executive
Director, Ontario School Bus
Association (OSBA). "We are very
concerned about the
long-term impact this will have on
our industry and on the level of
service our members will be able to

The OSBA estimates that
approximately 816,000 Ontario
children rely on school bus service
every school day. Donaldson called
on parents to support
the provincial government and school
boards in providing an adequate
level of funding to ensure high
quality levels of service.

"The safety and security of students
must be the first priority of student
transportation. It is incumbent upon
us to work together in order to make
the school bus system work," he said.

The Ernst and Young study was a result
of surveys done with ten school bus
operators, representing more than
2,500 vehicles. The operators serve
both public and separate school
boards, with fleet sizes ranging
from less than 25 buses to more
than 500. The operators have an
average of 33 years experience in
northern, eastern and
southwestern Ontario.