Prescott, ON – Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO) is working hard to secure transportation services for the start of the school year, after the most recent offer to school bus companies was rejected.
STEO’s responsibility is to keep parents informed and to ensure that the public has clear and accurate information as relates to student transportation.
STEO is working hard to reach an agreement on service contracts with school bus companies to provide student transportation for the 2023 – 2024 school year. These companies own the school buses and vans and employ bus drivers.
STEO has not locked anyone out or ceased to engage with bus companies, but without contracts in place, STEO has removed the bus companies’ access to the school bus routing system to protect the privacy and integrity of student information until service is secured.
STEO has not walked away from contract discussions. Since March of 2023, STEO has been actively negotiating with existing school bus companies.
The school bus companies have engaged in an ongoing series of actions that indicated they would not provide services in September.
- In June, the school bus companies informed STEO in writing that without an acceptable deal for school bus companies, all transportation would be withdrawn in September.
- On August 8, the school bus companies informed STEO that they were refusing to participate in STEO’s fully planned annual meeting to prepare for the upcoming school year, stating there did not appear to be any prospect of reaching an agreement for service in September.
- STEO’s best offer, which would provide for an additional $19M over the proposed four-year term was rejected by the school bus companies, twice.
- The school bus companies made a counteroffer valued at an additional $40M over a proposed five-year term, double STEO’s stated best offer, and vastly exceeding the available funding for student transportation.
None of these actions are consistent with a partner trying to reach an agreement and resume services.
Without an agreement, STEO notified parents to ensure that they were informed, while continuing to pursue all avenues for student transportation.
STEO’s most recent offer to individual bus companies remains open for discussion in the hopes of achieving resolution with existing bus companies.
Simultaneously, STEO has gone forward with an emergency limited tendering for routes that may require service. Though this process, STEO has issued another opportunity for existing or other school bus companies to enter into an agreement with STEO to provide student transportation services for the 2023 – 2024 school year. This one-year offer includes a 13% increase, amounting to over $5M, to any school bus companies that are willing to step forward and provide transportation services for students. This offer is in addition to continued protection against fuel increases and incentives especially for bus drivers.
STEO invites any existing or new school bus companies to review the offer to help us bring kids back to the classroom in September. STEO’s primary concern is, and always has been, getting students safely to class in September and throughout the school year.