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Not all school bus drivers meet licensing, training requirements: audit

By Brad Perry Jun 5, 2024 | 7:08 AM

New Brunswick’s auditor general has found a lack of departmental oversight for student transportation.

Paul Martin said despite an extensive audit that took place back in 2001, several compliance gaps remain.

“We noted several instances of non-compliance with legislation, including drivers licencing requirements, appropriate driver abstracts, criminal record checks, physical fitness, and bus driver training,” Martin told a committee of MLA on Tuesday.

Martin and his team performed a detailed audit in four districts: Anglophone South, Anglophone West, Anglophone East, and Francophone South.

Legislation requires that school bus drivers have at least a Class 2 licence with a B or C endorsement.

Of the 65 driver files tested, 38 per cent of drivers did not have an appropriate class license at the time of hire.

Martin said one in five driver files tested had no evidence of a criminal record check.

“We also observed one driver with convictions related to driving under the influence, the last dated 10 years prior to their hire date as a school bus driver,” he noted.

The auditor general also found that 37 per cent of drivers could not prove they had completed bus driver training at the time of hire, and 42 per cent did not have proof of first aid training.

Martin’s report, one of four released on Tuesday, also outlined concerns related to school bus maintenance.

His review found 63 school buses with overdue motor vehicle inspections and 311 with overdue maintenance.

The office also reviewed 330 inspection reports and found that 45 per cent identified at least one defect, ranging from minor issues to those requiring a school bus to be put out of service until corrected.

There were 20 instances of emergency exits not functioning properly and one bus was noted to have a hole in the floor.

Departmental and district staff expressed concerns pertaining to bus driver shortages, according to Martin’s report.

While the province has started to work on a province-wide recruitment and retention strategy, the auditor general said no targets or objectives have been set.

The auditor general made a total of 12 recommendations to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.