One week after three-and-a-half year old Zaiden was dropped off at the wrong bus stop and had to turn to a stranger for help, his distraught parents are raising concerns over the experience of school bus drivers on our roads.
CityNews has confirmed the driver in question was taken off the job for retraining but Sharp Bus Lines, the company involved, would not say for how long. However, Carlos Oberoi, the toddler’s father, claims he was told by bus company employee that the driver was suspended for just one day and was then put on a new route.
It took numerous calls and emails to the bus company over a two day period to get any information at all. At first we were told they cannot disclose details about the driver or the incident. After continued pressure for transparency, we finally got confirmation that the driver had 24 years of experience but was a new hire for Sharp Bus Lines.
Oberoi wonders if the major shortage of bus drivers in the GTA is part the reason for the terrifying mix-up with his little boy.
“At the beginning of the school year we were told they were short 60 bus drivers. So does that mean you just train someone really quick and put them on that route, hence why you left my son?” said Oberoi.
Oberoi’s concerns are being echoed by a man currently driving a school bus in the GTA. He says the rush to hire and train new drivers means they are hitting the roads less experienced.
“Normally in the summer you sit them in class and then you send them out in groups and you take turns driving a bus, you drive into the city and on the highway, you drive around town, you mock doing stops and you do that every day,” said the driver, who asked that his identity be withheld in order to protect his job. “But if you are doing that only every day for a week or two, you are not getting that 6-8 weeks you normally get.”
When we reached out to Sharp Bus Lines about these concerns we were told in an email “the MTO Driver Certification Program is not deviated from for any reason including a driver shortage.”