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ACPS reporting late or no-show buses every day this week

Albemarle County School Buses, parked in a lot. The county faces a severe shortage of bus...
Albemarle County School Buses, parked in a lot. The county faces a severe shortage of bus drivers.(WVIR)
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Every day this first week of May, some Albemarle County families have received the same morning message: their child’s bus will be running late, or in some cases, won’t be showing up at all.

Phil Giaramita, a spokesperson with the county said one to two late buses every now and then is normal, but the problem has never been at this scale. As many as 20 to 25 buses are either late or do not show up almost every school day.

This comes as the county continues to grapple with driver shortages. Since September, the district has been short 15 drivers, but recruitment efforts do not seem to be working. Now, many drivers are having to do “double backs,” or two different routes, resulting in late arrival times.

“Clearly, business as usual doesn’t solve the problem,” Giaramita said.

To solve the problem, the county is making a pivot, planning on taking a three-prong approach.

First, the county will continue to ramp up recruitment efforts, by traveling into the community looking for assistance, rather than waiting for applicants to apply.

Giaramita said the county will also roll out more “Type A” buses. These buses are smaller than a regular school buses and do not require a commercial driver’s license.

Another part of the approach includes working with other transportation services to transport high school students, though those plan details are not set in stone.

Giaramita said the biggest concern right now is letting parents know about possible delays and cancellations as soon as possible.

“Quite honestly, we can do a much better job with regard to that,” he said. “The goal is to let parents know as quickly as you can, as soon as you can, if there’s going to be a delay at a bus stop because not only does that affect a child’s schedule at school, but parents’ schedules for example in getting to work in the morning or childcare.”

He also said the shortages may be causing equity issues, especially if the same families are consistently impacted by the shortage.

“If you have shortages and it’s causing delays, we’ve got to be certain that it’s not the same students that are being affected over and over again,” he said.

The county said while this shortage cannot be fixed overnight and families should continue to expect delays and cancellations throughout the end of this school year, hopefully these new approaches will alleviate the shortage by the beginning of next school year.

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