New York City officials have reached a tentative agreement to acquire one of the city’s largest school bus contractors: Reliant Transportation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that the city’s Department of Education (DOE) will acquire the company’s school bus operating assets, which include its approximately 1,000-vehicle fleet and all equipment and intellectual property necessary for the provision of busing services, according to a news release from de Blasio's office. (Reliant Transportation took the 12th spot on School Bus Fleet’s Top 40 Contractor Fleets of 2019 list.)
“We are doing everything we can to guarantee safe, fast, and reliable bus service for the students who need it most,” de Blasio said in the news release. “This agreement delivers on that promise and makes a lasting investment in our school communities for years to come.”
In September, the city filed for incorporation to establish New York City School Bus Umbrella Services Inc. (NYCSBUS), a nonprofit to oversee school bus inventory and employees. Reliant reportedly specializes in busing for special education students and runs approximately 950 school bus routes for the DOE annually, which is approximately 10% of the agency’s school bus network. NYCSBUS will offer employment to the current Reliant workforce and work with labor partners to develop collective bargaining agreement terms to prevent any workforce disruption, according to de Blasio's office.
“So many of our students rely on yellow bus service to get safely to and from school, and this is an important step in securing that service for our students in the years to come,” said Richard A. Carranza, schools chancellor of the DOE. “This is a long-term investment that will gradually phase in and provide greater stability and oversight in school bus service in the years ahead.”
“The city’s strategic investment in bussing comes at an important time when the need for safe transportation of its students is at its greatest,” said Tom Egan, CEO of MV Transportation, Reliant’s parent company. “This transaction culminates Reliant’s successful longstanding partnership with the New York Department of Education and provides our dedicated and experienced workers with expanded opportunities to serve the students in their care.”
The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2021. Until that time, Reliant will continue to operate as an independent contractor for the DOE.