A group of school bus operators are in Toronto this morning as I write this post to make a visit to Queen’s Park.
At issue is their livelihood.
The Drummond report has suggested slashing non-teaching positions at schools but also transportation costs.
Steve Hull, the president of the Independent School Bus Operators Association, writes:
“The incomplete nature of the Drummond Report review of Student Transportation cannot be overstated. For example, the report states that, in spite of efficiencies through cooperation and creation of consortia, student transportation expenses have continued to increase, from $629 million in 2002–03, to an anticipated $845 million in 2011–12, an increase of 34%. This has nothing to do with competitive procurement. To suggest as much is grossly misleading.”
Hull, whose bus line is in Lambton County, says operators must deal with rising gas prices, the increase in minimum wage and having emissions testing costs added.
Hull’s members are lobbying to get the Coulter Osborne Task Force report released by the government.
The report is expected to outline other means of achieving competitive procurement of contracts and reducing transportation costs.
But as it currently stands, like the independent bookstores, or hardware stores, independent bus owners will have a tough time competing with the multinational companies.
“Potentially I could be put out of business in ONE round of RFP (Request for Proposal). The government has created the environment where as a School Bus Operator I have one customer and my buses can only be used for one purpose,” Hull told me.
It’s the little guy who gets squeezed out.