A question on how a bus ended up in a ditch in Gravenhurst continues to create more questions than answers.
A bus from Hammond Transportation was running its daily morning route along Houseys Rapids Road on January 25th.
According to Hammond Transportation as a plow approached the bus it pulled to the far right side of the road to allow for maximum clearance. That is when a front wheel caught the edge of a ditch, with the bus ultimately going into the ditch. There were no injuries, and the plow continued on its way.
The Town of Gravenhurst responded to an inquiry from MyMuskokaNow.com about the incident. A response from Andrew Stacey, Director of Infrastructure confirmed an earlier statement sent to another media outlet earlier this week.
“Based on discussions with our contracted service provider I can confirm that the contracted plow unit was heading northbound in/around Fire Route 25 on Houseys Rapids Road, and at no time overtook a school bus, nor did a school bus pass him in the opposite direction. The operator only became aware of the school bus, when he witnessed it in the ditch at approximately 10:00 am. Average speeds for a plow unit performing snow clearing functions is between 35 km to 42 km per hour,” the statement says.
A follow-up inquiry asking about a provision for GPS locators on the plow fleet confirmed the contractor the town uses to clear roads, Robinsons, does have such equipment. On the plow in question, however, it was not working that day.
“GPS is used in the Town/Contract Fleet – however, the GPS Tracking in the contractor’s plow was not working at the time and could not be validated,” confirms the Town’s Communication Specialist Jason Harnett.
When questioned about how the contractor receives it’s orders for snow plowing operations, there are no written orders, writes Harnett. This means the Town was unable to verify where the plow in question was meant to be at any specific time.
“The Roads Foreman typically provides (a) verbal request to the fleet – Contractors and Town Employees receive this on a daily basis,” says Harnett. “The Contractor deployed for this particular route is Robinson’s, who handle this specific roadway on a regular basis. An activity sheet is then submitted.”
Trillium Lakeland District School Board contracts the busing with Hammonds and stated in an article on Muskoka Region in the media earlier in the week that the dispute was between the Town of Gravenhurst and Hammond, so the board had no comment.