Over 30 new school buses ready to hit the road

Over 30 brand new school buses have arrived and are being readied for service next month.

School bus drivers Tony Sousa and Steve Verblac show off a row of brand new 2016 school buses

Over 30 brand new school buses have arrived and are being readied for service next month by the Coast Mountains School District’s new bussing company.

Diversified Transportation won a five-year contract this spring, edging out First Canada ULC which had the contract for 30 years.

The 31 new 2016 Freightliner buses fit 72 elementary students three to a seat, said Diversified district manager Luis Gonzalez.

There are three more smaller buses, two in Terrace and one in Kitimat, which are wheelchair accessible and have capacity for up to 20 students.

They are great units, brand new, that will service the community well,” Gonzalez said of the buses.

Diversified Transportation, which also runs the Northern Health buses in B.C., has 21 buses to be based in Terrace, 10 in Hazelton and three in Kitimat.

There are 41 drivers lined up to cover 29 routes.

“We are foreseeing that after training or after school starts, some people might find the job is not the best fit,” said Gonzalez.

Diversified will also need on-call drivers to cover holidays and it has hired one mechanic in Terrace to look after the buses.

All the drivers who applied had to take a two-week training course, to equip them to manage students and drive the routes and acquaint themselves with Diversified’s standards.

Ten drivers are still completing training in Terrace and eight in Hazelton.

“We are really looking for the personality and attitude that matches our core values,” said Gonzalez.

Of the drivers that used to work for First Canada here, Gonzalez says at least 25 to 30 per cent have come over to Diversified.

The five-year contract is worth $10.5 million, depending on number of routes and fuel costs in subsequent years, and there is an option to renew for two years.

Diversified and First Choice were the only companies to submit formal proposals.