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Route 41, which serves between 30 to 40 students in the Bear Mountain area, will resume as of tomorrow morning. The route was discontinued last week after a retirement left School District 59 scrambling to find a new driver.

“We still have a mechanic driving – which is not ideal – until we can get more casuals trained. We do have a couple of people training right now, so hopefully we’ll start to see some alleviation,” said Gerry Slykhuis, secretary-treasurer for the school district.

He said they are training one driver who already has experience driving bus in Lillooet, B.C., and should be able to start right away, and the other is a resident of Groundbirch and would cover that area once she is trained.

However, he said even with the new drivers, the district will continue to look for more recruits, because they will still be in a tight position to cover routes when drivers are sick or otherwise unavailable. He said one of the ideas discussed by district management is to create a full-time position for a driver who would cover those routes in those cases, but would act in some other capacity when an extra diver isn’t needed.

“It’s not as attractive to be hired on as casual because then you just work whenever the call you, so we’re looking at hiring a permanent ‘floater’ who would work everyday on whatever route is vacant that day,” said Slykhuis. “If there were no requirements for him or her to drive the bus, then we would use that person in our shop or somewhere else in the district doing something else. It’s a bit of a cost, but at least we would do a better job of covering routes when we are short of drivers.”

He said the district has really appreciated the patience shown by the families who have been affected by the cancelled route. He added the district is also fortunate to have a dedicated group of bus drivers who have often come in to fill in routes even when they were not feeling well.

“The ones who do drives the buses really do care about the kids and they are pretty dedicated, so they have been a big help along the way,” he said.

He added the news coverage of the bus route cancellation and the struggle to find drivers has no doubt helped to stress the urgency of the situation and probably led to the enquiries the district has received from interested applicants.

  

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