Albemarle County Public Schools providing new solutions to bus driver shortage

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 12:36 PM EST
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A bus driver shortage has caused delays all year for Albemarle County Public Schools, and drivers having to call out sick is straining its already thin numbers.

Charmane White is the ACPS director of transportation, a job that has been increasingly challenging as driver shortages and delays grow.

“It’s a combination of both. And of course, when drivers are out sick, and if we don’t have any subs, then what’s in our toolbox are the double back runs, and we have to notify parents. So yes, they may be seeing more of that,” White said.

She is excited for the future as, pay is increasing by $5 for drivers effective December 17. ACPS bus drivers will now earn $21.50 an hour, which helped recruit drivers like Michel’le Franklin. Another benefit of the job she says, is the flexible hours and benefits, along with the ability for drivers to work part-time.

“I had the spare time, and I believe every child deserves a quality education,” Franklin said. “I am a case manager for the department of medical assistants, so I do telemedicine, so it allows me to still drive the bus part time.”

ACPS also has another solution in the works that White believes will provide even more relief.

“We have submitted what is called an RFP, request for proposal solicitation. What that is trying to outsource a portion of our transportation,” White said.

She says this means that the county and Charlottesville Area Transit would work together to secure private firms to provide bus services.

“We can take those resources and help in other areas that were short, where we have vacant routes, perhaps we can realign some assignments,” White said.

Those bids are due on January 6th, and White says the move could add up to 20 drivers to the 15 current vacancies. She says it could look like other vendors providing smaller vans or buses to alleviate the routes. White assures parents and the community safety will never be compromised with this new solution, or ever.

“I see this as not the way we are now, I don’t see this being forever. For that reason, I keep pushing because our students are worth it, they really are, they are children, and this was a part of the community,” White said.

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