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NYC public school bus strike looms over start of the school year, impacting thousands

As the students of New York City eagerly get ready to step back into their classrooms, a sense of uncertainty casts a shadow over the city’s public school system. It’s not just the anticipation of new lessons and friends; it’s also the looming possibility of a bus driver strike and the added complexities of an influx of migrant students.

The potential strike by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1181, which represents approximately half of the bus drivers and attendants serving public school students, could disrupt the lives of thousands. Union officials have confirmed that school bus service will run normally during the initial days of the academic year.

Carolyn Rinaldi, the Chief of Staff at ATU, assured parents that routes will be serviced and negotiations are ongoing. However, the potential strike could have widespread repercussions, touching the lives of around 80,000 students, among them 25,000 who require special education services.

City officials have been crystal clear about their primary concern: making sure that each and every student, particularly those who are most vulnerable, can go to school without any disruptions. Schools Chancellor David C. Banks expressed the city’s commitment to resolving the labor dispute swiftly and constructively.

As a precautionary measure, the city has outlined several contingency plans in case of a school bus strike. Families facing transportation challenges will have access to emergency MetroCards, valid for MTA buses and subways, offering four trips and transfers daily between 5:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Some families will also be eligible for reimbursement for alternative transportation, including taxis, rideshares, or personal vehicles, with a maximum reimbursement of $200 per day.

The city is exploring rideshare options for affected students and families, with accompanying parents or guardians. Additionally, parents or guardians may use this service for their commutes within the five boroughs.


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