Inclement Weather - Cancellations of Transportation

posted Dec 10, 2014, 8:40 AM by St. Michael ‎(Ottawa)‎ School
bus snowThe decision to cancel buses is made by the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority. If transportation is cancelled, the information will be tweeted on @OttCatholicSB and we will send out an email notification to all parents who have provided their express consent in accordance with the Canadian Anit-Spam Legistlation (CASL). For the most current information on transportation, we encourage parents to follow OSTA on Twitter (@OttSchoolBus) or subscribe to the OSTA email list or visit

The following is a letter outlining cancellations by the General Manager of OSTA.

Inclement Weather - Cancellations of Transportation


The safety of students is always the first consideration when the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) makes the decision to cancel transportation services. OSTA and the Consortium de transport scolaire d’Ottawa have developed joint procedures for school transportation cancellations in the case of inclement weather and/or adverse road conditions. OSTA and Consortium de transport scolaire d’Ottawa staff make the decision to cancel school transportation services based on the the best forecasted weather information available at the time the decisions need to be made, in collaboration with several external sources, and our combined prior experience.

Several times each day, evening and overnight, OSTA staff receive up-to-date information from The Weather Network and Environment Canada regarding weather and road conditions in the City of Ottawa and the surrounding area. When weather or roads appear hazardous, OSTA staff review the weather and road information received. We are in contact with school bus operators, other area school board transportation staff, and municipal roads crews to assist in determining whether school transportation services will proceed or be cancelled for the day. When the joint decision is made to cancel transportation services in the City OSTA staff contact local media outlets, contracted service providers, and school boards to advise them that routes will not operate. Notices of service cancellations will appear on the homepage of this website, as well as on the main page of the websites of our member school boards.

OSTA staff strives to make well-founded decisions regarding cancellation of service to ensure the safety of all children. As we service a large geographical area, weather and road conditions may differ from one area of the jurisdiction to another. Ultimately parents have the right to decide to keep their child at home at any time if they feel that road conditions make it too risky to have him/her transported to school or to transport them to school on days they feel conditions are not severe in their area. When parents feel that students can be safely transported to school in their own area, children should not be driven to school unless they can be safely picked up at the end of their school day.  

REMEMBER! Cancellations of transportation services apply to the whole day, although schools remain open for students. Students who use our transportation services should not be driven to school, unless they can also be picked up at the regular dismissal time. Please remember to always dress your child properly for the season, in case inclement weather strikes!

Cancelling School Buses - A Lesson in Predicting the Weather

OSTA management reviews weather reports from the Weather Network every four hours, even in the middle of the night. These weather reports include information like (among other indicators):

  • Type of expected precipitation - snow, flurries, rain, freezing rain
  • Length of time precipitation is expected to last - per hour prediction
  • Amount of expected precipitation - per centimetre
  • Air temperature and dew point
  • Wind speeds - wind gusts

When poor weather conditions are expected, staff look at the 4am report to evaluate whether or not the latest report warrants cancelling buses. Calls are made to other consortia and transportation partners to get their input on conditions. By 5:30 am, the decision is made whether or not to cancel transportation and this is communicated through OSTA's website and Twitter, as well as OCDSB and OCSB websites and email notification. According to the reports and other sources of information available at 4am on Wednesday February 27, the snowfall and other weather indicators demonstrated gradually increasing snow flurries beginning at lunchtime with a maximum of 9cm cted by late afternoon. At 5:30 am, this did not warrant cancelling buses. 

As many weather experts have commented since yesterday, the precipitation Ottawa was subjected to yesterday was far more severe than expected and even record-breaking. There were no weather warnings issued until it became apparent that the snowfall was causing difficult driving conditions in early afternoon and the City of Ottawa deployed emergency measures to deal with the gridlock.

We live in a region where weather is not always predictable. We appreciate everyone's patience when we experience bus route delays. OSTA is committed to providing safe transportation in all circumstances.

We just wish the weather would cooperate.


Vicky Kyriaco, General Manager/CAO