MINDEN, ON – With a new school year come challenges for local bus companies.

Haliburton Bus Lines in Minden said it was a good first day and in terms of driver coverage they have all 50 of their routes covered. This is unlike companies in southern Ontario where many routes remain uncovered and drivers cover multiple runs often leading to late pickup and delivery of children.

Dave Freeman is the manager of the company and said where they are a little thin is for spare drivers. These are drivers that are fully trained but are on a stand by basis in the event a regular driver calls in sick or requests a day off.

“We’re close,” he remarked this morning. “We’re covered but it’s close. But for book-off coverages, spare drivers are at a minimum.”

Essentially bus companies run ads constantly looking for drivers, from newspaper ads to notices on buses themselves. Freeman said it takes three to four weeks from start to finish to get a driver trained and on the road.

“I’m very fortunate with who I have,” said Freeman. “I would be happier if I had more spare drivers.”

He said the first morning was very smooth in terms of normal operations with no issues reported.