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Extreme Cold Slows Down Albemarle School Bus Routes - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Extreme Cold Slows Down Albemarle School Bus Routes

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As schools prepare for another cold morning, its buses and drivers do to. Single-digit temperatures caused a slew of issues with buses in Albemarle County.

Tuesday came to a crawl for dozens of buses, and some of them were late getting students to school. But the county says, when you look at the big picture, the outcome was more positive than negative.

"When you have a fleet this large, on any given day, you know, anything can happen," said William Deane, assistant director of transportation for Albemarle schools.

Even with the best planning, many of the diesel engines were no match for central Virginia's rare cold snap.

"Our vehicles aren't usually equipped the same way that they would be in the northern climates. Diesel engines down here don't have block heaters and things like that as much. So on a very cold day you'll run into some issues with fuel gelling and vehicles not wanting to start, Deane said.

Thirty-four of Albemarle County's 150 buses wouldn't crank up on their own Tuesday morning and two of them wouldn't get started, even with new batteries, which caused delays on routes.

"When everything was said and done we only had six buses who were late this morning and only one of them was more than about eight minutes, so we actually did fairly well I think," Deane said.

Despite the issues, Albemarle County is thankful this happened Tuesday rather than Monday, the first day back. They say Monday had its own share of issues not necessarily related to the arctic blast, but for the simple fact that the buses had been sitting for two weeks because of the winter break.

Deane says about nine buses had trouble starting after the break, which is also why they spent Monday pre-treating fuel. He says this all shows the importance of having a game plan even when the outcome may be out of your control.

"The big thing this morning was we wanted to do everything we could to prepare and get these buses running on time, so we didn't have students waiting in the cold today," Deane said.

The transportation department had a meeting Tuesday afternoon to review how they responded to the situation and talk about what they could do differently in terms of where vehicles are parked and where mechanics are stationed in the field.

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