Are the buses cancelled?

In this Aug. 20, 2015 from the Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario website, STEO posts its busing cancellations for inclement weather. The agency recently reviewed its procedures for bus cancellations. (STEO via Newswatch Group)

JOHNSTOWN – A common refrain during winter from both children and adults is, are the buses cancelled?

What is equally confusing and frustrating to the public is why, in some instances, buses are cancelled.

The bus consortium, Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario, started the process recently to review it procedures for bus cancellations.

“The decision to cancel busing is not taken lightly,” STEO spokesman Ron Cotnam said.

The company makes a decision based on several factors from weather forecasts to first-hand information from bus drivers and a team of observers.

STEO staff review forecasts before 2 p.m. and alert drivers to possible problems coming in the day ahead. The forecasts are then reviewed again at 9:30 p.m.

STEO relies on The Weather Network for determining weather-related decisions. It also calls TWN at 4:30 a.m. on the day of inclement weather to check on conditions.

“Pelmorex/The Weather Network is one of the most accurate forecasting services in the country. The same system is used by road crews from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation,” Cotnam said.

But it’s not just forecasts. STEO also has a team of contractors, who go out at check area roads at 4:30 a.m. on the day of bad weather. There are 18 areas in Eastern Ontario and one representative in each area.

“This means buses can be cancelled in all 18 zones, or cancelled in as few as one, when conditions warrant such an order. Parents may get frustrated if roads in their area look fine, but while one street may look clear, travel elsewhere in the immediate region may be dangerous,” Cotnam said.

The final decision is made at 6 a.m. by the director of education after being notified by STEO at 5:45 a.m.

Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario has 750 school vehicles and transports 32,000 students in Eastern Ontario.

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