COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Every eligible Columbus City Schools student will be able to take a school bus to school this year.

The district, which has spent months trying to formulate a plan addressing how it would provide transportation to students, announced Wednesday that it now has enough bus drivers to cover all of the district’s routes.

Starting Friday, Aug. 20, parents will be able to log into the parent portal to access bus stop information.

“We have 613 bus drivers for 560 bus routes,” said district Director of Transportation Rob Weinheimer. “It took a lot of work and collaboration, but I am so proud that we never gave up. We found a way to make sure our eligible students are on yellow school buses by the start of the new school year.”

The district said it transports approximately 40,000 students during a typical school year, which includes CCS, charter, and non-public school students.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the district said it employed 765 drivers for 704 bus routes. The pandemic caused a loss of drivers not only in the district but nationwide: CCS dropped to just 600 drivers for the same number of bus routes.

“Since June, we have interviewed 230 bus driver training applicants,” Weinheimer said. “Of those 230 candidates, 127 are in the process of getting credentialed, which includes a CDL permit, background check, and training.” 

A routing consultant hired by the district was able to reduce more than 700 bus routes to about 560, CCS said.

More than 740 families said they would use alternative transportation to get their students to school, forgoing the district’s school buses.

Families needing help accessing the parental portal can contact Columbus City Schools at 380-997-7245 or email parentportalaccess@columbus.k12.oh.us.