NYC School Bus (Possible) Strike: What Parents Need to Know
Parents of public school children have been concerned this month about the possibility of a school bus strike in NYC. With the first day of school less than two weeks away, Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks released a plan of action in the event the strike moves from a possibility to a reality.
The plan, announced today, would notify and help support families in case of a potential strike by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, which represents about half of the bus drivers and attendants who serve NYC public school students.
The potential strike could affect approximately 4,400 routes across every borough, potentially impacting 80,000 students, of which 25,000 are special education students. If a strike is announced, the city will notify parents with an automated call, email and text message as soon as that information is available.
According to a NYC public schools press release, the city’s “top priority remains ensuring that every student, especially our most vulnerable, can continue attending their schools without interruption.”
What is the Plan for the Possible School Bus Strike in NYC?
At the centerpiece of the city’s plan is having alternative transportation options ready and keeping families informed in the event of a strike.
All impacted families will be eligible to receive emergency MetroCards. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) is collaborating with the MTA to provide the cards to students and families. The cards are valid on MTA buses and subways (excluding express buses) and provide a total of four trips and transfers daily, Monday-Friday, 5:30am-8pm.
Some impacted families will be eligible for additional services, including reimbursement for alternative transportation. The DOE is establishing a reimbursement system for families who must resort to taxis, rideshares or personal vehicles due to the strike. A reimbursement rate of 58 cents per mile has been set, with a maximum reimbursement of $200 ($100 each way) per day.
The DOE is also planning to provide rideshare to some impacted families. Students using the rideshare option would be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Additionally, parents or guardians can use the service to be taken to work or a destination of choice within the five boroughs and be picked up from that location in the afternoon in order to pick up their student from school.
Bus Strike and Children with Special Needs
Students with disabilities who have transportation recommended on a an IEP or 504 accommodation plan, or have an approved medical exception from the Office of Pupil Transportation will have access to pre-paid ride share and transportation reimbursement.
Amanda Ferrera, a mom who lives in Bay Terrace on Staten Island, is concerned for parents who depend on the yellow school bus service.
“I personally have one child who has non-verbal autism and gets door-to-door bus service,” Ferrera said. “But I’m also very aware that I am fortunate to have a huge support system for my son. My husband and/or his grandparents can drive him and pick him up everyday. I feel bad for those who really have no other option.”
The possible school bus strike in NYC is due to a labor dispute between bus companies that provide yellow bus service to the schools and a union that represents bus drivers and attendants.
“Make no mistake, this is a labor dispute that will have deep implications for some of our most vulnerable student populations and their families,” schools chancellor Banks said. “The city has consistently demonstrated good faith in its negotiations with union partners, such as the UFT and DC37. We anticipate and hope for a similar constructive approach with our bus companies and their employees. We are pushing for a resolution before the start of the school year to ensure every student gets the education they rightly deserve and remain hopeful for a resolution that is fair for workers and responsible for the city. In the meantime, we are working hard to plan for every alternative transportation service we will provide if a strike is called, and make families aware.”
NYC officials will be following up with families with more details as they move forward.