Schools open in New York City on Sept. 7, but it’s possible that student transportation will see disruptions due to a school bus strike.
Negotiations continue between the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents half the city’s school bus drivers and attendants, and contractor fleets hired by the city. If those negotiations fail, workers could strike, affecting thousands of routes in the five boroughs. The impact may be felt by 80,000 students, according to CBS News.
“We know that this would be extremely disruptive to students and families, and we continue to hope a strike can be avoided,” city officials said in a statement. “However, as it is a possibility, our priority is to do what we can to minimize disruption for our families and students, especially those that are most vulnerable, and to communicate updates to our families as we learn more.”
The backup plan for school transportation in the event of a strike includes:
- Emergency MetroCards supplied by schools.
- Pre-paid rideshares.
- Transportation reimbursement.
The city doesn’t plan to close schools. Nor will it offer virtual learning from home during a strike, if it occurs.
Statewide, even without a strike, transportation issues remain a concern due to the ongoing school bus driver shortage. A recent survey by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) found that 60% of respondents need more bus drivers.
“While Gov. (Kathy) Hochul and the legislature have made important policy changes to assist schools with recruiting and retaining school bus drivers, many school transportation departments are still struggling to address the driver shortage problem,” said Dave Christopher, executive director of NYAPT. “We ask that parents and caregivers who experience delays in school bus service or have transportation routes temporarily eliminated due to lack of drivers, be patient and have back up plans for transporting their children to and from school.”