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Bus shortage forces kindergarten school trip to be cancelled

Last Updated Oct 20, 2016 at 6:39 pm EDT

A Toronto Catholic school says the ongoing bus driver shortage has forced it to cancel an annual field trip for 130 kindergarten students on Friday.

St. Brigid Catholic School principal David Hogan said the trip to Forsythe Family Farms in Uxbridge was cancelled after the school couldn’t find a bus company willing to transport the children for its regular fee.

“It’s because we were trying to find buses, transportation with our usual charters. They didn’t have any available for us,” Hogan said. “We went outside our usual charters and the price was just way out of our range. Almost two and a half times what we usually pay.”

Hogan says they usually pay about $300 per bus and would have needed three buses for the trip. He said the only company that agreed to staff the trip was Parkinson Coach Lines for $2,400.

“We understand that there may be a premium for coming outside the city, but there’s no way it could have been more than a percentage,” Hogan said. “This is way too much.”

Parkinson Coach Lines would not offer an official comment, but a representative for the company told CityNews via phone that prices haven’t changed due to high demand caused by the ongoing bus driver shortage.

Parents say they were shocked and disappointed to learn the trip had been cancelled.

“Generally the parent council tends to pay for one bus per school year for kids to take trips,” said Diana Gonzalez. “We haven’t been able to do that because of the change in what they’re charging. Basically, they’ve overcharged us by three times what we normally pay, so it’s not something we’re able to afford to cover. ”

Gonzalez adds the parent council wishes there was something it could do.

“It’s disappointing. It’s affecting our children, affecting their education, what they’re able to do and experience,” she said.

The school says it hopes to reschedule the trip in the winter when prices are lower.

Toronto school field trip cancelled by CityNewsToronto on Scribd