Monday, November 29, 2010

CUPE: Recent Private Bus Inspection Failure Shows Need For Action

CUPE logo
Delalene Harris Foran, Jean Yves Maillet and Vallie Stearns of CUPE at the Coroners Inquest, May 2009, BathurstLeft to right: Jean Yves Maillet, Vallie Stearns and Delalene Harris Foran, President of CUPE 1253 (union responsible for bus drivers) speak to the media during a break at the Coroners Inquest, May 2009, Bathurst, NB.

FREDERICTON: The union representing school bus drivers in New Brunswick says the government should not wait for another tragedy to occur before implementing the use of school buses for extra-curricular activities.

“Last week’s incident where two private charter buses carrying 60 students were pulled off the road because the tires were unsafe only reinforces the need to use school buses for those trips”, said the president of the New Brunswick Council of School District Unions (CUPE 1253), Delalene Harris Foran.

“School buses are visually inspected on a daily basis by the drivers who receive special training and these buses are inspected twice yearly by licensed mechanics. Our buses meet all provincial standards. Professional Class 2-B school bus drivers are among the most regulated drivers in New Brunswick. Our safety record is second to none in North America, and we're proud of that. School bus drivers are regularly trained and tested in vehicle and student safety more than any other class of driver.”

“We are pleased that Education Minister Jody Carr immediately told schools not to use private bus companies until they investigate this incident. We believe the Minister should go a step further and implement the Coroner’s Inquest recommendation on the use of school buses for extra-curricular activities. ”

The Coroner’s Inquest specified: "Nothing less than a qualified Class 2-B yellow school bus driver with endorsements for school buses and air brakes should be used for travel to off-site extra-curricular events. Teachers, coaches and parents, as well as volunteers, should not drive children to off-site events."

“We call upon the Department of Education to immediately implement the Coroner’s Inquest recommendation that only Class 2-B professional school bus drivers be used to transport school children at all times. Trying to do these trips by cutting corners is not worth the risk."

"What we need is a real change in attitude. We have to stop trying to get away with cutting corners when it comes to the safety of children. Cutting corners in student transportation costs lives. Safety starts where the rubber hits the road, and that's with the bus and the driver”, concluded Harris Foran.

For more information:

Delalene Harris Foran, President, CUPE 1253, at 622-8009
Jean-Yves Maillet at 955-5345
Danielle Savoie, CUPE Communications, at 381-1966