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Whistler school bus driver shortage prompts suspended services

Route No. 5, also known as the white bus, cancelled by SD48
School buses parked in Pemberton. Like almost every industry and region, the Sea to Sky School District is struggling with a labour shortage.

UPDATE: In an emailed statement on Oct. 26, an SD48 representative confirmed Route No. 5 has now been reinstated.


Labour shortages have struck another blow to services in the Sea to Sky region with the suspension of a popular school bus route in Whistler.

On Oct. 17, the Sea to Sky School District (SD48) informed parents that Route No. 5, also known as the white bus, is suspended until further notice due to a shortage of school bus drivers.

“While we work diligently to provide a solution to the problem, we have to make changes to all Whistler bus routes to accommodate as many students as possible,” SD48 transportation and grounds manager Paul Else said in an email to parents.  

The School District has released a new busing schedule and recommends parents confirm if their children’s bus route stops or timings have changed. Parents can also contact if they are having difficulty finding their new route.

Due to the suspended route, SD48 can no longer take courtesy riders from the Bayshores area to Spring Creek Community School until the bus service returns.

The issue of finding bus drivers isn’t unique to just Whistler. The entire school district is finding it difficult to find new drivers, and there is a growing shortage of drivers across the country.

As the Squamish Chief reported earlier this year, the bus driver shortage is also not a new problem in the Sea to Sky. The deficit of drivers has been a growing concern district-wide, and seems to be worsening with the ever-increasing labour shortage across the region.

The difficulty in attracting new drivers is due to “a mixture of lower wages, low daily hours being offered and split shift schedules,” CUPE 779 president Christina Forsyth said in an emailed statement to the Chief in January.

The union did not respond to a request for comment before Pique’s weekly press deadline.

For its part, SD48 is working diligently to try and hire more drivers. On the SD48 job board, there are currently 13 bus driver positions open, with 10 of the positions being on-call.

The wages for a bus driver start at $27 per hour, and the job requires a valid Class 2 B.C. driver’s licence with air brake endorsement. Due to the job's nature, drivers typically work morning and afternoon split shifts, with the district having to find other work for the full-time drivers during the middle of the day to add up to a full day's work.

"We understand that the bus cancellations due to the shortage of bus drivers continue to inconvenience the daily routines of our families, and the team is working hard and actively looking for innovative solutions to help resolve the issue at hand,” SD48 director of operations Ian Currie said in an emailed statement.

“Our current efforts to resolve the situation in Whistler include securing a charter bus and driver to resume bus service along the white bus route. In addition, we are cross-training our drivers so they can be flexible and operate various routes when required.”

The school district is undertaking a variety of recruitment tactics to attract new drivers to the region, including free training with a vehicle and a sponsored driver, a benefits package, increased advertising for the position, and attending recruitment fairs in different communities.

“While the bus driver shortage continues to be challenging, our school bus service is something we are proud to offer to our school community, even though the Ministry of Education does not require it,” Currie said.

According to Currie, various school districts charge additional fees for school bus services. Some districts across the province have chosen not to be responsible for student transportation, requiring families to find their own way to school.

To find more information on currently available job opportunities, check out the district's job board at

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