School bus safety seats expected next year

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Laidlaw Transit anticipates having buses equipped with built-in safety seats as early as next year.

AMHERST - Laidlaw Transit anticipates having buses equipped with built-in safety seats as early as next year.

"We don't have the seats yet but that is becoming the law next year. Any new buses that we get next year will have the first four rows of seats with these restraints on them," Laidlaw manager Randy Morris said Monday.

Sixty-six of these new buses are being used throughout the province this year, but none of Laidlaw's 51 buses in Cumberland County are equipped. There are also no buses in the Halifax regional board with the buses because Stock Transportation, who has the contract with that board, had just replaced more than half of its fleet last year before Transport Canada changed the way buses should be built.

Morris said Laidlaw is aware of the changes and is working towards implementing them as quickly as possible. However, he said, there are a number of things that have to be looked after before the buses are purchased and put into service.

For one, it has to be determined who will be responsible for buckling children under 18 kg into their seats and ensuring they remain buckled up while on the bus. It's likely that will be something determined by the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and the province.

"There are all kinds of scenarios being considered. A lot of the logistics will be figured out as they start implementing it," Morris said.

Some school boards have hired monitors who'll be responsible for buckling the students in their seats.

Every school bus in the province is expected to have the child safety seats in place by 2019. The seats are like cushions that flip down, similar to ones in newer model cars and they'll be used by children up to age nine. Transport Canada says they're only required for children under 18 kg.

Chignecto-Central spokesperson Terri Mingo-MacNeil said there are some of the new buses in service in other areas of the district.

Transport Canada's research indicates children who weigh less than 40 pounds would be better protected in school buses if restrained in safety seats.

Organizations: Transport Canada, Laidlaw Transit, Central Regional School Board

Geographic location: Chignecto, Cumberland County, Halifax

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