The NL English School District is suspending bus service for 4,000 students at 20 schools in northeast Avalon

NL English School District suspends Gladney's Bus Services over

NL English School District suspends Gladney’s Bus Services over

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

The English school district of Newfoundland and Labrador has suspended student transport services provided by Gladney’s Bus Service, citing safety concerns for students.

“Following a review of available information, the district could no longer allow bus service to continue without confidence that it would be provided in a safe manner for students,” the district said in a news release Saturday.

20 schools are affected by this process, including some alternative transport services.

The district said it intends to have bus services reinstated for those schools by Monday, February 20. For the time being, however, families of affected students are being asked to make their own arrangements for transport to and from schools.

The schools and routes affected are as follows:

  • Beachy Cove Elementary School: All routes

  • Beaconsfield Junior High: All routes

  • Brookside Intermediate: All routes

  • Elizabeth Park Elementary School: All Routes

  • Hazelwood Elementary: All routes

  • Holy Cross Elementary: All routes

  • Holy Spirit High: All routes

  • Mary Queen of the World Elementary School: Route 22-044-1

  • Mount Pearl Intermediate: Route 22-044-3

  • Mount Pearl Senior High: Route 22-044-3

  • O’Donel High School: Route 22-044-4

  • Paradise Intermediate: All routes

  • St. Peter’s Primary: Route 22-044-2 and Route 22-044-4

  • St. Peter Junior High: Route 22-044

  • Topsail Basic Level: All routes

  • Villa Nova Junior High: All routes

In addition, Gladney’s alternative contracts of carriage apply to Cape St. Francis Elementary, Holy Trinity Elementary, Holy Trinity High, Juniper Ridge Intermediate.

The statement gave no further details on the nature of the security concerns.

“The District sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this will cause to many families, students and schools,” the statement said. “However, the organization was left with no choice but to take these steps to ensure the safety of the students.”

Report follows fatal collision

In an interview with CBC News, the school district’s CEO Terry Hall said that an accident involving a Gladney bus, which fatally hit a pedestrian on Wednesday, played a role in their decision to suspend service, but it wasn’t the only one reason.

“It wasn’t a particular aspect, we wouldn’t make a decision based on an aspect unless it was something overly significant,” Hall said. “This is a culmination of the information we have gathered throughout the school year and some concerns we have had regarding the fleet and operational issues related to this particular contract that led us to this decision.”

Hall didn’t elaborate on the safety concerns, but said a review of Gladney’s will take place.

“The suspension of Gladney’s services will allow us to fully review their fleet and operational controls where we have safety concerns,” Hall said. “We’re not setting a timeframe for how long it will take us to do this because we need to make sure we conduct a thorough review to understand if we’re able to provide the secure service and standard that we expect.”

Heather Gillis/CBC

Heather Gillis/CBC

Hall said the decision will affect around 4,000 students, although he expects some students to be back on buses before the end of next week.

“We understand the inconvenience this causes for parents,” Hall said. “But rest assured we do not take these decisions lightly.”

According to Hall, parents and guardians can contact the district’s transportation department with questions or contact their child’s school directly.

No concerns were raised prior to the announcement, Gladney says

Meanwhile, Josh Gladney, president of Gladney’s Bus Services, said he was caught off guard by Saturday’s announcement.

“I’m just trying to deal with it and I’ve sent it to the legal department to see what’s going on. I will work with the NLESD to give them everything they need to find out what’s going on. But we’re fully prepared to hit the road on Monday morning with a full line-up of licensed and insured buses and fully qualified drivers, so I don’t really understand what the problem is.”

Gladney said no safety concerns were raised with him prior to the press release and that he wasn’t sure what the issue was. Regarding Wednesday’s accident, Gladney said it shouldn’t be an issue for the school district.

“There were no children on it and it wasn’t a route at the time.”

Gladney said his contract with the school district accounts for about 70% of his business and that he hopes to be back on the road for the district soon.

“We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out,” Gladney said, “but as always, we’re here and ready to do whatever it takes to make it work.”

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