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Facetious ad to sell school buses meant to make a point: Dave Callahan

This screen grab of a Facebook ad was posted by Dave Callahan, a former school bus operator in St. George's.
School bus. - 123RF Stock Photo

Dave Callahan has gone to social media to advertise the sale of school buses, while trying to make a point about the school bus process in this province.

He said a number of private bus operators are being forced out of the business by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.

In his social media ad he said he is selling yellow vehicles needed to support a business destroyed by our government, made unsafe and awaiting disaster.

“If you are currently into this mess of an industry and need a few buses give me a call,” Callahan said in the ad. “If you are not currently into this business and would like to be, there really is something not working quite right in your head.”

He is actually selling nine of his 10 buses at about market value.

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Callahan said since posting the ad he received calls from other industry people, who agreed with him on problems in the school busing industry.

He said he had to get out of it when he could no longer afford to do it properly or respectfully and treat a driver to a fair wage.

“I was obviously in a business that I shouldn’t be when I couldn’t put a bus on the road safely,” he said of the industry his family was in for more than 50 years.

Callahan said the real story is the people who scrutinize these contracts know what it costs to run a bus and it’s sad that it’s now down to “lowest bid hauls your kid.”

Glenn Shears of Shears’ Bus Service in Rocky Harbour, whose family has been in the business for 56 years and operating school buses for years in the Stephenville area, agreed there are problems in the system.

He doesn’t know how much longer he can keep going as “you can’t operate for nothing.”

Shears said the tender process is the big problem and said private ambulance service and private liquor stores don’t have to face tendering every five years, just once and they’re good to go.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said it would not be commenting on this matter and referred it to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.

The school district would not provide an interview but did issue a statement, noting it is subject to the same newly legislated Public Procurement Act used by the province.

The district expects all bids put forth by those interested in providing busing service to take into account the estimated costs associated with all aspects of the contract, particularly matters of vehicle maintenance, inspection, training and safety.

The statement said in the most recent public tendering process for contracted busing services in the western area, companies owned by Callahan, with whom the district has previously done business, did not submit any bids for consideration.

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