Published February 27, 2017
The only thing we at TB talk more about than safe busing is the weather. It plays a large role in the safe transport of precious cargo, which is our mandate. In the 2016-2017 school year, TB had 9 partial or full “Snow Days,” 4 of which landed on consecutive Tuesdays at the beginning of January, causing #TriBoardTuesdays to become a meme in our online community:
While we did make light of the weekly weather, the process for calling a "Snow Day" is taken very seriously by all involved. As TB's bus operators and drivers are in the business of safely transporting children, we are always on the lookout for what could prevent this safe travel. Winter weather is of course, one of the biggest impedements for our drivers and so we watch radar and weather forecasts daily in the winter months. When it looks like snow or freezing rain may be coming the next day in our service area, our management team plans for an early rise to assess the safeness of all bus routes.
That rising time is usually 4:00am, well before the earliest bus starts its route. At that time, we are in talks with our Weather Captains -operators who go out of their way to connect to local bus drivers and municipal road crews to get the scoop on road conditions and even drive the roads themselves.
Tri-Board serves a large area and weather does not behave the same throughout it. So, our Weather Captains are divided into ten geographic zones: North Hastings, Centre Hastings, Belleville & Quinte West, North Lennox & Addington, Central Lennox & Addington, South Lennox & Addington, North & Central Frontenac, South Frontenac, and Kingston & Frontenac Islands.
Most of our buses service multiple schools so buses are cancelled based on the zones they travel through, not just the zone the school they travel to is in. A Snow Day may be called for one zone and not another. Weather Captains are aware of what routes travel through their zones.
We collect information from all our Weather Captains by 5:15am and carefully assess the safety risks associated with transporting children throughout each zone in poor conditions. Our CEO then provides a recommendation to the affected schoolboard as to whether the buses should run or not prior to 6:00am. The Director of Education can insist the buses run despite the recommendation not to. The Director also determines if schools remain open when buses do not run.
If a bus runs in the morning, it must run in the afternoon to ensure children do not get stranded at school. Therefore, we sometimes recommend buses do not run for the day due to pending or forecasted weather for the afternoon. These days can be difficult to call and are often met with frustration from the public. By the afternoon, the reasoning behind our decision usually becomes quite clear. In 30 years, there has been one call on record for weather that never came.
We know Snow Days can be difficult for parents to navigate, not just due to the weather but also the scheduling conflicts that arise. We do not make these decisions lightly. We make them with the lives of over 30,000 passengers in mind. If we cannot transport children safely, we won't do it at all.
Published February 27, 2017
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Drivers, please remember to watch out for our kids. When the lights are flashing please, Stop for the Bus!