Hiring of private buses for schools looks unlikely

Arif Jonas (file photo)
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By Carlena Knight

Private bus drivers will not be used to help transport school students, says network manager at the government’s motor pool, Arif Jonas.

Last week’s Cabinet notes stated that, due to the “challenge on the buses which usually transport students from rural districts to schools in St John’s, private buses would be utilised as to reduce the likelihood of any infected student passing on his/her infection to others”.

But Jonas, who is in charge of the national school bus system, says he has “not been informed or anything of the sort from anyone”.

“I am not sure if the notes were correct to be completely honest. I am confident it was mentioned, but if it is something that was actually put down as policy, then that is a different question because no one has spoken to me about it up to this day,” Jonas stated.

Jonas explained that there are many dynamics to be ironed out before such a provision could be made.

“It is not just as simple as saying, hire a private bus and let them do the run. We need to ensure that there is a conductor on the bus who is going to be doing the same things that we wish for our conductors to be doing.

“All of the things have to be worked out, as in what are we going to pay, because it’s not always a point A to point B run, and then the children may be standing at the side of the road and they will not just jump and get on a bus just like that; there has to be markings on these private buses to let our children know that this is actually operating as a school bus at this point,” he said.

“All of the logistics would need to be worked out and how do we pay a person if at this instance he’s only carrying 10 children and, on another run, he’s taking 20 children? Do we still have to pay him for the full load?” he asked.

“I think all of those things are things that would have to be worked out that have not been considered as yet, so there’s quite a bit before that can be fleshed out, and before that becomes a reality if it’s going to be looked at seriously,” Jonas added.

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