**** EDUCATION/EARLY CHILDHOOD Development Media Release
Changes Coming for School Bus Service
Changes are coming to the way school bus service is delivered in the Halifax region, after thousands of families made their views known through a provincial online survey.
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education is preparing a request for proposals to determine what options other than Stock Transportation may be available for school bus service in Halifax.
“We heard loud and clear from students and families of the challenges and frustrations they’ve experienced with school bussing this year centreing on the Halifax Regional Centre for Education,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “Families can be confident that immediate and long-term improvements to strengthen student transportation are on the way.”
More than 8,000 people across the province completed an online school bus consultation survey.
The results showed that respondents outside of the Halifax region were satisfied with the service. Concerns among respondents were strongest in Halifax.
The top three areas of concern were communication, safety and service reliability.
“Families haven’t had the experience they expect so we need to create a better, more reliable, service for them,” said Elwin LeRoux, regional executive director for Halifax. “The current contract includes responsibilities that we believe are better managed internally.
“We want our transportation provider focused on getting students to school safely and on time. Making some changes now – and looking at future options – will improve the experience for our students and families.”
Stock Transportation will continue to deliver busing service for 2019-20, until a new contract is in place.
In September 2019, Halifax Regional Centre for Education will begin providing greater oversight in the areas of communication and routing, with a plan to completely take over these responsibilities for September 2020.
It will hire seven new people to do this work at a cost of about $464,000. When a new contract is in place the following year, the cost will become part of the centre’s operating budget.
The new request for proposal will require a provider to purchase, drive, maintain buses and ensure the safety of students on their trips to and from school. It will also be designed in a way that may result in multiple vendors providing transportation services.
Stock Transportation now transports 23,000 students to and from schools in the Halifax region each day.
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education expects to issue the request for proposal for busing service this summer. The feedback received from the consultation will be informative in the development of the request. All tenders issued by regional centres for education are posted on the government procurement website at https://novascotia.ca/tenders.
A new provincial student transportation policy is also under development. It will be implemented in September 2020.
To review the consultation results, visit, https://www.ednet.ns.ca/docs/schoolbussurveyreport.pdf
** Response via HRCE