New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is warning parents with children attending one of the city's public schools of the possibility of a yellow bus strike soon after the holidays.
If it occurs, a strike could affect more than 152,000 students citywide.
In a letter dated Dec. 21, Walcott warns parents about a pending labor negotiation between the bus drivers union - Local 1181- and the city that, if not settled, could result in severe service disruptions or complete discontinuance of yellow bus service.
The city's current yellow bus service contract is scheduled to expire at the end of the 2013 school year. As the DOE has issued a bid for a new yellow bus company contract beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, the union is asking that the agency include an employee protection provision that will preserve the jobs of tenured workers should the DOE hire a new contractor. Without this provision, the union says it will strike.
"We regret the possibility of what could be a major disturbance in the lives of students and their families," said Walcott in the letter to parents. "We continue to hope that the bus drivers’ and escorts’ union will not take such action in response to what is the proper, legal course of action for the Department of Education to take on behalf of our students and the city’s taxpayers."
However, in the event a strike should happen, the DOE has advised parents of the follow protocols:
- All students who currently receive yellow bus service may receive a MetroCard. MetroCards are being made available at schools and should be requested through the school’s general office. The Transit Authority has been informed that it may need to accommodate additional riders.
- Parents of pre-school and school-age children with IEPs requiring transportation from their home directly to their school - as well as parents of general education children in grades K-2 - may also request a MetroCard for the parent or guardian to act as the child’s escort to school.
- As an alternative to MetroCards for parents whose children receive busing from their home or students in grades K-6 receiving yellow bus service from a school bus stop who live in areas where public transportation between home and school is not readily available, the city is offering reimbursement for actual transportation costs. Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed at a rate of 55 cents per mile. Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that include a receipt for provided services. Requests for reimbursements should be made one week at a time on forms that will be provided in schools’ general offices.
- Field trips using yellow bus service will be canceled if there is a bus service disruption. After school programs will remain open, but no busing will be provided.
For more information and/or updates on the status of the potential strike, visit www.nyc.gov or call 311 or the Pupil Transportation Hotline at 718-392-8855.