Local dad publishes document for alternative way to get kids to school
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The shortage of school bus drivers continues to plague the Charlottesville area. It's a problem Charlottesville City Schools has been facing since last summer.
One local dad decided to take action and find another way for his child to get to school.
Matthew Gillikin says his son has been using a Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) bus for some time now. Gillikin decided to create and publish a document listing the stops of this route so that families could think about another option for their school transportation needs.
"I wanted to put together some information about that and make it a resource available to anyone," said Gillikin.
Gillikin's son, an incoming sixth-grader at Walker Upper Elementary School, takes the CAT 9 bus. Its route starts downtown and finishes with a loop by Walker Upper Elementary and Charlottesville High School. Gillikin says the bus travels at a good pace and is reliable.
"There is always a little variability on the time that buses show up, but in my son's experience, he got to school on time 99 percent of the time in the mornings, and in the afternoons, he left in a timely manner probably 96 percent of the time," said Gillikin.
The fact that it doesn't cost Gillikin anything doesn't hurt.
In 2021, the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded CAT more than $1 million to continue fare-free rides until 2026. It was in response to the needs of riders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the parents worried about their student's safety on public transportation, Gillikin says not to worry.
"There is an adult driving the bus who monitors who's there and makes sure people are generally behaving. The vast majority of people riding the bus are just on it to get to where they need to go," said Gillikin.
Public transportation may also expose young students to valuable experiences.
"The opportunity to gain more independence was something that was really fun for him and helped him kind of build a better sense of self and grow up some," said Gillikin.
Gillikin says this route may work well for families living in places like Belmont, 10th and Page, or Rose Hill. Charlottesville City Schools has posted Gillikin's spreadsheet on its website.