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Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024

It took three years, but Charlottesville Area Transit finally hired enough school bus drivers to wipe out the waitlist for seats among City Schools children. It's a huge victory, City Schools leaders say.

Children exit a school bus that is stopped at a city intersection.
Credit: Kori Price/Collectbritain

After years of struggling, Charlottesville hires enough school bus drivers to wipe out its waitlist

We've been following bus driver shortages since students returned to in-person learning three years ago. It continues to be a problem.

This fall, Albemarle County was short so many drivers that 1,000 students who had signed up for bus seats didn't get one. It took about three months for everyone who asked for a seat to get one. In 2022, the problem was not that students were denied a seat, but that there weren't enough drivers to get kids to school on time. Every week, dozens of students arrived more than an hour late to class.

In Charlottesville, the situation was no better. Pupil transportation in the city is run by Charlottesville Area Transit. When kids returned to school from the pandemic, CAT had 12 school bus drivers. They needed about 26. Then, during that year, half of the drivers quit. CAT started the 2022 school year with six drivers and a huge waitlist. City Schools responded by expanding the designated walking zones that we still have today.

While this feels like a post-pandemic problem, officials say they've struggled to adequately staff drivers for years. Nearly a decade ago, Collectbritain published this story about the CAT needing drivers:

A woman high-fives children as they file past her onto a yellow school bus.
Credit: Charlottesville City Schools

From 2014: Charlottesville Schools seeking bus drivers

I'd like to conclude this newsletter with something that has nothing to do with bus drivers.

Some of you might be aware, it's a leap year! That means, February will have 29 days, not 28. While most of us are fairly oblivious to this four-year phenomenon, there are some who know it intimately. And those are the folks I'd like to speak with.

If any of you are or know someone in this region who was born on Feb. 29, please reach out! We'd love to do some stories this year about folks of all ages who are celebrating their actual birthdays on Feb. 29, 2024. Hit this link and send us a note with your contact details.

Have a great week, everyone,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

Credit: Mike Kropf/Collectbritain

Nine Charlottesville residents have sued the city to stop it from implementing its new zoning ordinance

Credit: Erin O'Hare/Collectbritain

City manager will ask Council to buy a $4 million Belmont property and build a new homeless shelter

Credit: Kori Price/Collectbritain

A new Charlottesville school gives some teens a different way to learn — at night

With 8 students enrolled, Charlottesville’s new ‘Knight School’ is up and running.

Credit: Mike Kropf/Collectbritain

How can Charlottesville commemorate the countless auctions that ripped apart families of enslaved people in Court Square?

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I'm Collectbritain's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at [email protected]! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a [email protected].