Takhini takes over school busing

Takhini Transport is back behind the wheel of the Yukon's school buses. The company was awarded a five-year contract worth almost $14 million to run school bus service in Whitehorse and the territory's communities.

Takhini Transport is back behind the wheel of the Yukon’s school buses.

The company was awarded a five-year contract worth almost $14 million to run school bus service in Whitehorse and the territory’s communities.

Takhini under-bid the incumbent contractor, Standard Bus Contracting, by $1 million.

This is the second time Takhini has been awarded a five-year contract. The last time, the contract was terminated in its fourth year and a two-year contract was awarded to Standard because Takhini couldn’t cover the cost of rising fuel prices.

Takhini’s owner, Ernie Jamieson, said he’s confident that won’t happen again.

“There’s a fuel clause in the contract. It’s complicated,” he said, declining to explain further.

But trouble with fuel costs wasn’t the only pothole that Takhini has faced in the past.

Three years ago, the company had maintenance problems with its fleet in Dawson City, according to one of the company’s drivers. She reported at the time that radios weren’t working, one bus had starter problems and another had to be restarted frequently. After that driver complained about repeated diesel leaks and refused to drive what she said was an unsafe bus, she was fired.

Jamieson insisted that those issues had nothing to do with maintenance.

“No, that was driver issues. You can believe anything you want, but that was a driver issue, not a maintenance issue,” Jamieson said.

When asked what assurances the company could provide that it won’t have similar problems this time around, Jamieson replied, “How do you know what a driver’s going to do? Nobody does.

“We had beautiful maintenance. With our maintenance program I was running at 92 per cent, and that’s with the Yukon government coming in and inspecting my buses twice a year. It’s as good as it gets right across Canada. You run into people that are the issues,” he said.

Jamieson said he has ordered a brand new fleet of International buses. Once Takhini takes over the busing contracts in July, it will have 54 buses on the road and another seven or eight in reserve, Jamieson said.

The bidding process required that the Department of Education award the busing contract to the lowest bidder, said department spokesman Chris Madden.

“Contractors were asked to break their bids down into fixed annual costs, plus fixed cost per bus per year, plus variable cost per bus per kilometre. The low bid was selected based on what was selected. It’s the contracting rules, which awards to the low bid. It’s pretty cut and dry,” Madden said.

Standard Bus’s Ron Swizdaryk said his company just couldn’t compete with Takhini on price.

“This is a price-driven contract and we couldn’t price as low as Takhini without compromising safety, employee wages and our training program,” Swizdaryk said.

That training program involved bringing a mobile training unit up from Outside at a cost of $10,000 twice a year to train Standard’s bus drivers. Standard refused to cut that program, and the cost put their bid above Takhini’s, Swizdaryk said.

“I wish them luck, but we just weren’t going to go that low,” Swizdaryk said.

Contact Jesse Winter at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read