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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County Schools students at certain schools will switch from the traditional yellow buses to city buses starting Monday as the district grapples with a deepening bus driver shortage.

On Friday, GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras said that the school district had worked out the arrangement with Greensboro Transit and High Point Transit to provide free service to those students.

High school students in the Greensboro and High Point areas will use city buses for at least two weeks. For high school students in the county where there are no city buses, yellow buses will continue to pick up and drop off students.

Yellow buses will also continue to pick up elementary and middle school students.

She said parents will receive information about how to access bus routes, and she encouraged any parents who could to drive their children to school to so.

The following high schools will be affected by this change:

How to use the High Point bus system

High Point Central High School14Chestnut Rd / Carr St
Andrews High School13McGuinn Dr / Andrews High School
Bus in High Point (Courtesy of High Point Transit)
Bus in High Point (Courtesy of High Point Transit)

Hours of Operation

  • Monday through Friday: 5:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:45 a.m. until 5:15 p.m.

How do I find my High Point Transit bus route and/or bus stop?

You can find your closest High Point Transit bus route and stop by using any of the following options:

Google Maps and the Transloc Rider app are both able to tell you the time that you will need to arrive at the bus stop. The Transloc Rider app can also show you where the bus is.

See the High Point Transit System website for more information.

How to use the Greensboro bus system

Grimsley High School8Wendover/Seminole
Smith High School11Gate City/Holden
The Academy at Smith11Gate City/Holden
Dudley High School4Gate City/Lincoln
Page High School3Church/14th
Bus in Greensboro (Courtesy of Greensboro Transit Authority)

Hours of Operation

  • Monday through Friday: 5:15 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

How do I find my GTA bus route and/or bus stop?

You can find your closest GTA bus route and stop by using any of the following options:

Google Maps and the Transloc Rider app are both able to tell you the time that you will need to arrive at the bus stop. The Transloc Rider app can also show you where the bus is.

See the Greensboro Transit Authority’s “Welcome GCS High School Students” guide for more information.

Shuttle buses available to certain neighborhoods

Guilford County Schools plans to offer a small number of shuttle buses serving certain apartment complex and neighborhoods. GCS identified these communities as places where large numbers of students ride district school buses and may lack transportation to school.

School staff with the appropriate licensure have volunteered to drive.

The district stressed that these buses are not for the community and cannot exceed capacity or pick up additional students.

Grimsley High School announced that the school will provide its students with four shuttle buses starting Monday to help address the challenge. Students will be picked up at Hampton Homes Warnersville Center, Montrose Apartment – Planet Fitness Parking Lot, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church (Dust Bowl) and Gillespie Golf Range Parking Lot. Pickup time will be 8:30 a.m. and the buses will leave Grimsley to bring students back at 4:30 p.m.

“A huge thank you to Coach Brown, Coach Tripp, Coach Peoples, Mrs. Moore and Athletic Director Albright for volunteering to drive the buses,” Grimsley High School said. “Also a special thank you to our counseling team for volunteering to chaperone the bus routes. I realize that this is not a perfect solution, however, it is a start. We will monitor and adjust the plan as needed.”

Weaver Academy will use yellow buses, not city buses

Despite initial reports from GCS that Weaver Academy was to be included, Principal Johncarlos Miller announced on Sunday that Weaver Academy will be using traditional school bus transportation and will not be using city buses.

Using Google Maps to plan your route

Kevin Elwood, market and communications manager with the Greensboro Transit Authority, explained how you can use Google Maps to map out our bus route before you even leave home.

In the video above, Elwood offers a step-by-step explanation.

Tips for riding a city bus

Bus in Greensboro (Courtesy of Greensboro Transit Authority)

Riding a public transit bus is slightly different from a yellow school bus. Here are some tips from the Greensboro Transit Authority:

  • Oncoming traffic is not required to stop for a transit bus. Use caution when crossing streets.
  • When boarding the bus, show your Student One Card in the farebox to confirm student status.
  • Face coverings are required by federal law on all transit buses and property. Wear it correctly covering the mouth and nose.
  • Board at the front door of the bus and leave by the back doors for quicker service.
  • The bus will only stop when the operator sees a person waiting to board or someone has announced their wish to get off the bus by pulling the yellow stop request cord above the windows.
  • The destination signs on the front of all buses contain the following helpful information: route number, route name, and designation of Inbound (headed towards downtown) or outbound (headed away from downtown). If you get on the bus headed in the wrong direction, no worries. The bus will eventually turn around and follow the same route back. If you are unsure, just ask the bus operator.
  • Any food or drink brought on the bus must be in closed containers and cannot be consumed on the bus. 
  • Like regular riders, students are subject to a disruptive behavior policy enforced by the operator and on-board cameras/microphones. Any violations will be reported to Guilford County Schools and can lead to suspension from use of bus services.

How did this happen?

GCS, like most school districts, is challenged to fill its bus routes with available drivers, and that situation has been made worse by absences caused by the recent surge in omicron variant cases of COVID-19.

That shortage required GCS to delay middle school starts by an hour and high schools and middle colleges by 90 minutes. Parents were able to drop off students at their regular times with teachers in the classrooms.

“We saw first hand this morning how rising COVID-19 cases in our community could affect getting students to school in a timely manner,” Contreras said.

She said absences and ongoing vacancies left about a third of the bus routes without available drivers.

“As of this weekend, we don’t have enough bus drivers to continue serving all students, so we had to make some really difficult choices,” said Chief Operations Office Michelle Reed. “We are grateful to our partners in the City of Greensboro and the City of High Point for stepping up and filling the gap for us by providing free rides for GCS high school students who live within their boundaries.”

All school districts across the Triad reported openings for drivers and other vacancies created by the effects of COVID-19. Substitute teachers also are a need.

In Wake County, parents of thousands of students were required to drop them at schools because of an insufficient number of bus drivers.