We are facing a significant shortage of school bus drivers during the 2022-23 school year. While the City continues to recruit bus drivers, we have also been implementing new strategies such as:
- Expanding our walk zones and supporting children who walk
- Working with the City to identify and implement safety improvements for pedestrians
- Creating community awareness about pedestrian and bike safety
- Encouraging older students to use the public CAT buses
- Collaborating with community partners to support biking
Relying solely on school buses is not going to work for this year or the future. As we create a new model of transportation, we appreciate the strong support we have received from the community, particularly with an eye for equity. Together, let’s find ways to make our schools and city safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly.
Community Members: Help Keep Our Kids Safe!
You’ve seen the “Go Slow” signs on City streets, and most of you are doing your part to keep an eye out for the students who walk or bike to school. Thank you! Here’s what we’re asking:
- Drive slowly, especially during your morning or afternoon commute when students are also engaging in their daily commute!
- Our crossing guards work hard to keep our kids safe — please respect them and their directions.
- Clear your sidewalks promptly of leaves and snow.
My Child Got Assigned to the School Bus — Is There Anything I Need to Know?
Yes! Here are several important ideas:
- If this student does not need this bus seat, please tell your school as soon as possible since we have students on a waiting list.
- A parent or designee MUST meet children younger than 2nd grade at the bus stop each day.
- Please review the Family Guide to School Bus/Transportation Safety. In addition to setting expectations for safety and behavior, the guide indicates that if a student does not ride the bus for 10 consecutive school days, the seat may be reassigned to a student from the waiting list.
- You can learn more about school bus services, which are managed by the City’s Pupil Transportation program at: charlottesvilleschools.org/bus.
What Are the New Walk Zones?
The revised walk zones are about 0.75 miles for elementary schools (about 20 minutes), and 1.25 miles for Walker, Buford, and CHS (about 30 minutes). These distances are on the lower range of schools across the region and country, and these expanded walking (or “family responsibility”) zones are an important part of addressing the bus driver shortage. In some cases we have rounded up to get to the end of a cul-de-sac or natural neighborhood boundary. In a few cases with CHS students, we have extended the walk zone as high as 1.6 miles if the path is very walkable. We have stayed within or close to our time estimates for the walk.
Are There Any Limits or Exclusions to the Walk Zones for Safety?
To ensure safety, we’ll provide bus eligibility in situations where walking infrastructure isn’t adequate (such as railroad tracks). The City is working now to address some of these issues – click here for a list of confirmed projects (updated weekly).
In a few cases, even if the route is not pedestrian-friendly, we have not given the student bus eligibility because we are asking the family to take responsibility for finding a safe way to transport their child for a short distance. In these rare situations, the home is very close to the school or the less-safe area of the route is very close to the child’s home.
There will also be exemptions for specific students for special needs such as documented medical conditions.
Are There Recommended Walking Paths? Where Will Crossing Guards Be?
We have created maps with commonly used walking routes to our elementary schools and middle school (based on distance, sidewalks, and crossing guards), but there may be other routes that your family prefers.
Click on the links below for printable PDFs of our maps (you can also browse images of maps in the slideshow below):
- Burnley-Moran School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Clark School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Greenbrier School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Jackson-Via School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Johnson School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Venable School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Walker School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
- Buford School Route Map (PDF) Revised 8/1/22
Please consider the following:
- On our maps, different colored lines show commonly used routes to school. Most routes have sidewalks, but areas with low neighborhood traffic (but no sidewalk) or areas where there is a brief stretch without a sidewalk may still be considered a good route.
- On our maps, orange stars are locations where we are planning to have a crossing guard. These include locations where we have had a guard in previous years as well as new locations identified by families, staff and community partners. We continue to hire for these positions.
- Some routes may include walking across parking areas, and most routes cross driveways and entrances to homes and businesses. Point these out to your student as you are practicing the route to and from school.
- We recommend that students walk in groups and/or with at least one responsible adult, and consider visibility when choosing your route.
- For routes traveled by many elementary students (such as between Friendship Court and Clark), we offer staffed walking groups (“walking school buses”) or additional crossing guards along the path.
Have suggestions to improve these maps? Email email@example.com
Want tips for walking safely to school? Watch Dr. Gurley’s video, guest-starring some friends from Clark Elementary:
Would a Bike Make This Easier?
Contact Community Bikes at 434-260-0893 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider Public Transportation.
For some of our older students, the City’s CAT bus services may be a good solution.
More about CAT Routes for Older Students
- All schools zones are served by existing CAT routes except Greenbrier:
- CHS and Walker are on Route 9 (pink)
- See parent Matthew Gillikin’s Guide to Riding Route 9 to Walker
- Buford has stops on Route 4 and 6 (red & yellow)
- CHS and Walker are on Route 9 (pink)
- CAT is free for people under 18 and has operated fare-free since the pandemic
- Need to find your route? Use a tool like Google Maps (click directions, then the bus icon) or find out more here.
- This is an opportunity to support the expansion and enhancement of the public transit system while developing students as life-long public transit users
I Heard the City is Making Sidewalk and Intersection Improvements. What Are They?
The City has been supportive of these expanded walk zones, and they have been making improvments (see below). We meet with the City regularly to propose additional solutions and get status updates. Thanks to the City and to community members for doing this research and advocacy!
See List of City Bike & Pedestrian Improvements
Notes about the project statuses:
- Projects are added when the City confirms that they can undertake them
- “Completed” means that the project is complete
- “Scheduled Improvement” means that the work is expected to be completed within 30 to 60 days
- “Planned” means that the City has a plan for this work, and it will be scheduled when resources and/or funding is allocated
- “Open” means that a staff member has not been assigned to this intersection
Notice a Street or Sidewalk Issue that Needs to be Addressed?
- Check out the list of upcoming improvements, above.
- The MyCville app is a great way to report infrastructure concerns to City Public Works (or call 434-970-3333, option #2). Upload photos or describe areas of concern.
- To report a “close call” of a walking or biking accident, use this form to help the City improve safety.
Will Walk Zones Shrink or Expand in the Future?
If there are issues with these walk zones, let’s work together to find solutions. We will continue to work with families and the City to make improvements. As we learn more and as the City addresses known issues, we may expand these walk zones further. Please remember, our expanded walk zones are still on the “short” side of regional and national averages.
Want to Help?
- Consider applying as a regular or substitute crossing guard (including the role of walking group leader — these “walking crossing guards” are included in the same job application).
- The City continues to hire bus drivers — you or folks you know can apply to be a regular or subsitute driver!
- Want to work towards a more walkable, bikable Charlottesville? Consider joining the Piedmont Mobility Alliance.