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Dawson City parents relieved as school bus service resumes after abrupt cancellation

A temporary bus driver from Whitehorse has stepped in to transport students to Robert Service School
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The two school bus routes in Dawson City have been combined into one for the remainder of the school year. (Black Press file photo)

School bus service to Robert Service School has resumed in Dawson City following a May 15 announcement that both of the community’s school bus routes had been cancelled.

The initial notification stated that the D1 and D2 route suspensions were effective immediately and that it was unclear when they would resume.

The news disappointed parents who rely on the buses to transport their children to and from classes. However, a solution was promptly found: on May 16, the company that operates the buses, Standard Bus, brought in an out-of-town driver to cover the routes, which have been temporarily combined.

“The initial messaging that we sent out was that both routes would be cancelled until further notice, and there was a significant amount of frustration about that. So we did everything that we could to find a driver in Whitehorse that was willing to go up to Dawson and cover,” Standard Bus operations manager, Sebastian Gabriel told the News.

He added that once a solution was announced, the majority of responses from parents were positive.

“Even though the first day was a little bumpy because the driver wasn’t familiar with the routes, most parents were really appreciative that the bus was running.”

According to Gabriel, the initial cancellation of the services resulted from a medical emergency that impacted both of the company’s drivers in Dawson City.

“We had a serious medical incident with one of our drivers and the other driver is related to [the injured person] and decided to visit them at the hospital in Whitehorse, where they were airlifted to,” Gabriel said.

The temporary driver from Whitehorse is continuing to drive the route until the end of the school day on May 19. From next week, it is anticipated that the uninjured driver from Dawson City will return to continue operating the combined route.

Gabriel expects the two routes to remain amalgamated for the remainder of the school year, which ends for students in Dawson on June 1, although he is hopeful that both bus routes will be back up and running for the start of the 2023-24 school year.

“We have very extensive recruitment efforts in place for all the communities we serve, so I am confident we will be able to have two standalone buses for the start of the next school year,” he said.

The Yukon Department of Education echoed Gabriel’s assessment in an email to the News, stating, “the plan for next school year is to have both routes operating normally.”

Contact Mathew Bossons at matthew.bossons@yukon-news.com