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School Transportation in Canada

An estimated 36,800 yellow school buses provide transportation daily to 2.5 million students, about 55% of Canada’s K-12 student population.

Like its neighbor to the south, Canada has an extensive school transportation system. And, like the United States, Canada’s school transportation system uses traditional yellow school buses, though in Quebec 46,000 students are transported to and from school by public transit buses.

School bus safety is a particular area of interest for Transport Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that covers numerous aspects of school bus safety ranging from manufacturing standards to collision investigation. It also ensures that all school buses, whether domestically produced or imported from the United States, meet the requirements of the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The North American Free Trade Association, and prior to that the Auto Pact, allows easy import and export of school buses between the two countries. Thomas Built Buses has school bus manufacturing plants in Canada and is joined by Canadian bus builders A. Girardin, Inc., and Corbeil, a division of Collins Bus Corporation. These bus builders manufacture about 3,500 school buses annually. Of the total number of school buses produced annually, approximately 15 percent are small buses, 20 percent are transit-style buses, and the remaining 65 percent are conventional-style buses.

Construction of the buses is governed by a series of 37 Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that are patterned after the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

They key standard for school buses in Canada is D-250. The standard was developed under the auspices of the Canadian Standards Association. Dating back to 1975, and most recently revamped, D-250-98 codifies school bus construction. It is a voluntary standard adopted through regulation at the provincial level. D-250-98 incorporates all the relevant Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, along with some other concepts not found in CMVSS. The thrust of D-250-98 is that it is illegal to sell a school bus in Canada that does not conform to the standard. The D-250 standard is the method by which Canada ensures that school buses imported from the United States meet Canadian safety and construction standards.

Starting with D-250-98, the standards are no longer just construction standards but also 0perational standards. This means that when a school board bus a bus the bus must be Maintained to the D-250-98 standards as long as it is in service.

Copies of D-250-98 may be obtained from the Canadian Standards Association.

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