‘Some call it a kid-Uber:’ Former Chesterfield bus driver starts business taking students to and from school
CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Cheryl Whalon’s eight-person charcoal minivan is a far cry from a big yellow school bus but says her new side hustle might be the reason your Chesterfield student makes it to school on time.
“Some people call it a ‘kid-Uber,’ but I like to think that I’m a step above that,” Whalon said.
Between the late buses and critical driver shortages, Whalon says she’s been closely following the transportation mishaps Chesterfield County Schools have endured during its first week back to school.
When parents were asked to drive their own students to and from school, she saw it as an opportunity to begin her new business to help parents who didn’t have the means to get their kids to school without relying on the bus system.
“This is where I could come in,” Whalon said, “I call it, ‘Mrs. C’s Kids Transport, LLC.’ I started it maybe about three weeks ago.”
Whalon says her rates start at $10 a day for transportation to and from school, $50 for a week of transportation, or $180 for an entire month. Whalon says her business is open to anyone who needs it in Chesterfield.
“It’s pretty exciting, I’m getting a lot of phone calls,” Whalon said. “I have students at three different schools, which is a good start.”
Despite her business only being a few weeks old, Whalon says she’s been driving students to school and back for a long time. Whalon was a celebrated veteran bus driver for Chesterfield Schools for the past 23 years. Health issues have required her to retire from driving a bus, but she says she putting her experience with Chesterfield Schools to good use in her business.
“I’ve learned a lot about routing that Chesterfield County does, so I have to make sure that I allow enough time for travel,” Whalon said. “I can seat six elementary school students. I have the students - just like the schools - wear a mask, and I do wipe down my seats and disinfect them every day.”
As a former bus driver, Whalon says she isn’t surprised by the county’s driver shortage because of how much drivers are typically paid and allowed to work. She believes higher pay and additional hours would not only retain the drivers the county already has, but recruit new drivers.
“We’ve been contracted for 30 hours, but there’s a need for more than that, and it’s been difficult for a lot of drivers not to go over that,” Whalon said. “A raise could help.”
Whalon runs the business with the help of her husband and says she purchased the minivan specifically for the job. She hopes that as the business continues to pick up, she will be able to expand and purchase another vehicle to help serve more people who need it.
She believes that even after Chesterfield resolves its bus issues there will still be a need for her services for parents who need an alternative transportation option for their kids without rearranging their schedules.
As the county works through its bus issues, Whalon hopes this alternative will help families bypass a school year filled with uncertainty.
“I’ve heard a lot of positive things; people have messaged me and texted me and said, ‘wow this is something that we really need,’” she said.
Whalon if you think you can benefit from her business, she can be reached at 804-852-3698 or email@example.com.
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