Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, NB
Published Wednesday February 24th, 2010
Read the original article in the Daily Gleaner
Small buses | Some school activities may have to be cancelled
A1By STEPHEN LLEWELLYN
New Brunswick's 14 small buses used by schools for after-hour activities are off the road until snow tires can be installed on the front wheels, says Education Minister Roland Hache.
The decision comes after Transport Canada testing found there should be snow tires on all the wheels on the multi-function activity buses.
Currently, the province requires snow tires on the back wheels of the small buses and ribbed, all-season tires on the front.
"As minister of education, I have ordered each and every school district that they cannot drive any kids with those kinds of tires prior to those winter tires being put on," said Hache on Tuesday.
"Nice weather or bad weather or storms, I don't care. No kids will travel in those multi-functional vehicles without winter tires."
That may cause some after-school events to be cancelled, he said.
The only exception is schoolchildren who are already at an event. They may travel home in the 21-passenger vehicles before the winter tires are installed in the front, said Hache.
"I have said from the onset that we would abide by what Transport Canada and their experts would tell us," he said.
"Today they've told us that winter tires are the best way to go according to our weather, driving conditions, etc."
In January 2008, seven members of the Bathurst High School boys' basketball team and their coach's wife were killed when their 15-passenger school van collided with a transport truck during a snowstorm.
A coroner's inquest called for snow tires on all vehicles taking children to after-school activities.
The province banned the use of 15-passenger vans to transport students to after-school activities such as sports games. Only the larger, 21-passenger buses are allowed for that purpose now.
But in the absence of national testing for multi-function activity buses, Transport Minister Denis Landry said the province followed the advice of an independent consultant and two leading tire manufacturers to have four winter tires on the back wheels and two ribbed, all-season tires on the front.
"We went with what we thought was safest for the kids," said Hache.
He said it's not a question of one tire being bad and the other tire being good. The all-seasons were good, but the snow tires were better, he said.
Last month, the province asked Transport Canada to do the testing for the safest configuration.
"Transport Canada has advised that the MFABs (multi-function activity buses) perform and manoeuvre better with six winter tires," said Landry.
He said the 28 new snow tires costing about $5,000 have been ordered and should arrive within days. The tires will be installed on the buses in government garages, he said.
"I think we can do it this week," said Landry.
Comments on the site:
To Minister Roland Hache
Why did you let these three mothers who in their own words stated:
.... "had been struggling with the government to hear us, to listen to us, but the fact that they did the tests secretly and didn't tell us is very disrespectful on their part," said Isabelle Hains.
Why did you announce these results on the day before the tire testing was to begin in Michigan?
These mothers were in Michigan , "where they've arranged for their own independent tests of winter tires versus all-season tires on the front of the minibuses."
Haven't these mothers lost enough without you and the government adding further to their tragedy?
Shame on you for showing such disrespect and lack of empathy towards these mothers.