After 30 years, Coast Mountains School District replaces bus service provider

As of June 30, First Canada ULC bus lines will end its contract with the district and Diversified Transportation Ltd. will take over

A 30-year relationship between one bus transportation company and the school district has come to an end but drivers can apply to work for the new company.

As of June 30, First Canada ULC bus lines will end its contract with the Coast Mountains School District and Diversified Transportation Ltd. will take over.

“The change in providers is a decision of the management of the school district,” said Stephanie Creech, manager of corporate communications for First Canada.

“First Canada is naturally disappointed that we will no longer provide transportation services for the upcoming school year.

“We understand the concern this situation has caused our employees and are committed to helping them through this process.

“We remain focused on providing safe, reliable transportation to the district students throughout the remainder of the school year.”

The school district’s new contract with Diversified is worth about $10.5 million for a five-year term and there is an option to renew, said school district secretary treasurer Alanna Cameron.

Four companies responded to a request for proposals issued by the school district but only two, First Canada and Diversified Transportation, submitted formal proposals.

“Diversified’s proposal was the district’s best financial option,” said Cameron.

Tom Jezersek, vice president for Diversified, said the company was accepting resumes for bus driver positions and would be “very interested” in having First Canada drivers apply.

The pending changeover has not been without its troubles.

A majority of the existing bus drivers, concerned about their futures, briefly walked off the job the afternoon of April 29.

Parents of bus students were subsequently asked to pick up their children if possible.

Full service was restored and some students were an hour late returning home.

The school district here has 29 school bus routes and Diversified will employ 29 drivers plus three or four extras to cover vacations or for other reasons, he said.

At least two mechanics will be needed to maintain the fleet, Jezersek added.

Diversified is bringing in  more than 30 new buses for its contract – 2016 Thomas Freightliner C2s – and each costs about $100,000, he said.

These ones have been made to be as comfortable as possible, meaning auxiliary heaters to keep students warm and heated seats for the bus drivers, said Jezersek.

He declined to say how much the company bid for the contract.

Diversified Transportation is familiar with the region through a contract it has with the Northern Health Authority to operate its medical bus service transporting people to and from health care facilities across the north and down south.