PEI school buses grounded

CHARLOTTETOWN : PEI’s school boards pulled their 320 buses off the roads this week to check them for rust, after years of ignoring warnings from CUPE members.

The problem was found in one bus during a routine inspection. Rust that started in the vehicle’s wheel well had made it all the way through to the passenger compartment.

When mechanics found similar problems in other older buses, the ministry of transportation decided to inspect the entire fleet, and keep about a third of the buses – all built before 1994 – off the road for repairs.

“This situation did not come as a surprise to us,” said CUPE 1145 President Myles Noye. “We raised this issue many times with government officials.”

Noye said the local has been pushing the board to replace its buses every 12 years.

“Other provinces already have rotation programs in place, similar to what we have been proposing,” he added.

In 2006 a provincial auditor general’s report noted that Eastern School District mechanics were able to keep buses on the road, but were not able to assure the safety of some of the older vehicles, and that seven buses had been taken off the road because they had corroded to the point where they were beyond repair.