Takhini Transport expelled by Education

The wheels fell off Takhini Transport's school bus business this week. After busing Yukon students to school for more than a decade, the local company's contract is not being renewed.

The wheels fell off Takhini Transport’s school bus business this week.

After busing Yukon students to school for more than a decade, the local company’s contract is not being renewed.

The contract went out to public tender, said Education student transportation officer Dea Hrebien.

And BC-based Standard Bus Contracting Ltd.‘s bid came in $370,000 lower.

“That’s a big chunk of money,” she said.

Standard Bus was awarded the contract on Monday.

Public tenders are price driven, said Hrebien.

The lowest bidder gets the contract, as long as they meet all the requirements and standards, she said.

Takhini Transport wanted nearly $5 million for the two-year contract.

Standard Bus came in at just over $4.6 million.

“It’s hard to say why they were able to do it for so much less,” said Hrebien.

Standard Bus is part of a very large company, she added.

“This may help them cut costs.”

Takhini Transport has more than 50 school buses in the territory, said Hrebien.

It was responsible for busing students in every Yukon community except Carmacks, Haines Junction and Destruction Bay. Norline Coaches Ltd. covered these three communities.

Standard Bus may end up buying Norline and Takhini’s buses, said Hrebien.

“That could be an option.”

Standard Bus also plans to hire Takhini’s drivers, “if they meet the hiring criteria,” she said.

“When they take over an area, they want to hire people from there who have experience and know the area, the routes and the kids.”

Takhini Transport refused to comment on the loss of the contract.

They’re probably “not happy about losing that much business,” said Hrebien.

“But that’s the way business is done – you need to pick up your bootstraps and carry on.”

Takhini Transport faced controversy recently when it had trouble with its Dawson City fleet.

In December, one of Takhini Transport’s drivers was fired after refusing to drive a bus that was leaking diesel.

A few weeks later in the community, a bus full of children was about to turn onto the highway when there was a loud explosion and a big red flash.

The kids were evacuated and the bus ended up in the shop.

Then, in February, one of Takhini’s Dawson buses died in front of the school after classes let out.

Takhini’s Dawson buses had a lot of problems, according to former driver Tiss Clark.

Clark drove streetcars and buses for the Toronto Transit Commission for 11 years before taking the job in Dawson.

And she knows drivers are responsible for the safety of their passengers.

Under responsibility of the driver, the Yukon’s Education Act states:

“No driver shall drive with students as passengers until satisfied that the contracted vehicle is in safe mechanical condition.”

The Dawson buses had mechanical issues, said Clark.

The two-way radios – a safety feature – hadn’t been working on the Dawson buses since October, she said.

One bus had problems with billowing smoke and had to be shut down and restarted periodically to mitigate the problem. Another had starter problems, she said.

But the leaking diesel really worried Clark.

When she complained, she was fired.

Takhini Transport repeatedly refused comment on its Dawson bus problems.

Norline and Standard Bus could not be reached by press time.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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