Saturday, January 2, 2010

Department of Education Misleads Public by Calling MFAV a Bus

Environment Minister Rick Miles, Minister of Education Roland Hache, Minister of Transportation Denis Landry
Group photo of three New Brunswick Cabinet Ministers standing outside of a YELLOW SCHOOL BUS taken in September, 2009. Left to right: Environment Minister Rick Miles, Transportation Minister Denis Landry and Education Minister Roland Hache. Photo by Valerie Kilfoil. Source: website

In reading the press coverage of the last few days, we note that Valerie Kilfoil, Communications Director for New Brunswick's Department of Education, keeps referring to Bathurst High School's 21 passenger Multi-Function Activity Vehicle (MFAV) as a "bus" on which it is acceptable to have mixed tires (winters in the back, all season, ribbed tires in the front).

Kilfoil even cites industry experts at Goodyear whom she says support the view of David Hoar, the NB Department of Education's engineering consultant, who claims that mixed tires are acceptable on "buses".

(Click here to read David Hoar's letter dated November 22, 2009)- interestingly, he doesn't cite a single source for his opinion - some report. We hope the taxpayer didn't pay too highly for his personal "opinion"!)

(Click here to read the December 4, 2009 correspondence from Goodyear in which they agree, that in their "opinion" mixed tires are acceptable on a "bus" - which is how the Department of Education described the 21 passenger MFAV vehicle. It's not Goodyear's fault they're being given the wrong information by our government. Like David Hoar's report above, you'll note the careful use of the word "opinion", not "scientific research studies" or "research data.)

Of all the things that we find frustrating in dealing with New Brunswick's Education and Transportation Departments, this one is very near the top of the list because it is so misleading to call the 21 passenger MFAV a "bus" when it is NOT.

Calling the 21 passenger MFAV a bus just muddies the waters, as if the waters weren't muddy enough on this issue. It's hard enough for the experts to sort these issues out. We don't need self-proclaimed transportation experts like Valerie Kilfoil misleading the public by saying the 21 passenger MFAV is a "bus".

We are just mothers. We are not experts on transportation or tires and the last time we looked neither was Valerie Kilfoil. We rely on the experts in the automotive and tire industry to tell tell us the difference between "buses" and "MFAVs". But we don't think it takes a degree in engineering to see that a yellow school bus and BHS's 21 passenger MFAV are not the same.

Once more, here is a yellow school bus. We have been told by the experts with whom we have consulted, including Transport Canada's Nigel Mortimer and many others, that it's OK to have mixed tires on a yellow school bus.
Yellow School Bus

Here is the BHS's 21 passenger MFAV. We have been told by the experts that we have consulted with including Nigel Mortimer of Transport Canada and many others that it's NOT ok to have mixed tires on a MFAV. These vehicles are not "buses". They are completely different and require a different tire configuration of winter tires on all four wheels.
BAthurst High School's 21 passenger MFAV

We repeat: Bathurst High School's 21 passenger MFAV is NOT a "bus". Therefore, if it is not a bus, why does Valerie Kilfoil call it a "bus" and why is she relying on "expert opinion" that says it's OK for a bus to have mixed tires when we are not talking about a bus? We are talking about a 21 passenger MFAV and she knows it.

It's deliberately misleading and designed to have everyone so confused that nobody knows who to believe.

Denis Landry, New Brunswick Minister of TransportationIn our view, it's just another good reason why we need a scientific research study done by experts in the field who know what they are talking about. It's incredible that the safety of our children is left up to people like Denis Landry, the Minister of Transportation, whose only connection to tires is that his last job was used car salesman. (Click here to read Denis Landry's biography)

Will someone please tell Valerie Kilfoil and Andrew Holland, Communications Director for the Department of Transportation, that the 21 passenger MFAV is not a "bus" so that we can get this straightened out once and for all.