OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority is cancelling dozens of bus routes in September and shifting more than 2,000 students from the yellow bus to OC Transpo to help deal with a severe bus driver shortage.

The Parent Portal opened on Saturday afternoon, allowing parents to check the school bus status for their children ahead of the first day of school the week of Sept. 6.

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority says more than 98.2 per cent of students will be able to access transportation on the first day of school, but some routes have been cancelled due to the driver shortage and parents will have to find alternative transportation.

Some Grade 7 to 12 students in both the Ottawa Carleton District School Board and Ottawa Catholic School Board have been transitioned to OC Transpo Routes, and some yellow bus service has been changed or cancelled.

Routes to 15 Ottawa Carleton District School Board schools are currently cancelled for the start of the school year – either the morning route, the afternoon route or both. Routes have been cancelled to six Ottawa Catholic School Board schools for both the morning and afternoon trips or just the afternoon trips.

"For cancelled routes, parents will need to find alternative transportation to get their children to school for the next few weeks until services stabilize," says the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority.

Earlier this month, the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority said it was looking to hire 60 new school bus drivers.

The authority says it has been working on the following "creative solutions" to ensure the greatest number of students continue to receive transportation.

  • On-going driver recruitment
  • Transferring students to different routes
  • Combining multiple routes
  • Building in delayed arrivals and/or departures to covered routes to add service
  • Creating longer routes
  • Moving high school students to OC Transpo
  • Transferring students to van service
  • Offering shuttle service at congregated stops
  • Hiring new bus companies
  • Finding alternate drivers through coach services
  • Encouraging parents/guardians to opt-out if service is not needed
  • Student volunteers calling parents/guardians to confirm ridership or opting-out

ALL ABOARD OC TRANSPO

The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority says many Grade 7 to 12 students usually assigned to a yellow bus will take OC Transpo this year.

More than 2,000 students facing transportation uncertainty will now use public transit to get to school.

The transportation authority says students were selected to shift to public transit using the following criteria.

  • Geographical areas that OC Transpo services well
  • OC Transpo services the school within a reasonable distance 
  • Students living within one kilometre walking distance of an OC Transpo bus stop
  • Routes that lacked available yellow bus drivers

Students assigned to OC Transpo will receive a free Presto School Board Pass valid from September to June 30.

"OC Transpo has also advised its bus drivers to allow students to embark buses without paying fares or showing Presto cards during the first few days of school start-up," says the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority.

"Students are not required to show identification but may be asked to confirm they are students verbally.