New York City Department Of Education: Update on School Busing

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) has released a statement of the strong possibility of an immediate system-wide strike by the bus drivers’ union—local 1181—that could impact yellow bus service for more than 152,000 students citywide.

The DOE has released a bid to secure new yellow bus contracts to transport special education pre-kindergarten and early intervention ( "pre-school") children to their school programs for the 2012-2013 school year. The current contracts are set to expire at the end of June 2012 and it is imperative that the DOE move forward now to secure a new contract.

The bus drivers’ union has stated that if the bid does not include an Employee Protection Provision—a measure which guarantees their workers civil service-type seniority rights in the event that their current employers do not win the new bid—they will go on strike, system-wide. This would result in severe disruptions, or possibly complete discontinuance, of yellow bus service.

There is concern about the impact of a strike on students and families and are encouraged to be prepared in the event one occurs.

Any information about disruptions to bus service will be posted the DOE's website at Parents and guardians whose children rely on yellow bus service—for Pre-K or K-12 service—are encouraged to regularly check the website for updates. The information will also be provided to the media and to 311.

In the event that a strike occurs, the following protocols will take effect for families of students who currently receive yellow bus service.

•    For all students who currently receive yellow bus service from a designated school bus stop to school, issuing Metrocards will be issued. Metrocards are being made available at schools and should be requested through the school’s general office. The DOE has already informed the Transit Authority that it may need to accommodate additional riders. Families are also asked to consider alternative means of transportation to school in case of a disruption.

•    Parents of pre-school and school-age children with IEPs requiring transportation from their home directly to their school, as well as parents of children in grades K-2, may request a Metrocard for the parent or guardian to act as the child’s escort to school.

•    For pre-school and school-age children who have an IEP requiring transportation from their home directly to their school, the DOE is offering reimbursement for actual transportation costs. Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed at a rate of 51 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. The forms will ask you to indicate on which school days alternative transportation was taken and whether it was taken for both the morning and afternoon commute. Reimbursement forms as well as receipts should be sent to the Transportation Reimbursement Unit at 44-36 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101.

•    Field trips using yellow bus service will be cancelled if there is a bus service disruption. After school programs will remain open, but no busing will be provided.

This is a very difficult situation for the school system and the DOE understands that it may be very upsetting to students and families. Every parent or guardian must evaluate the needs of his or her child in terms of making the best arrangements to transport the child to school. Students who arrive to school late because of disruptions to yellow bus service will be excused for up to 2 hours. Children who are unable to attend school because of disruptions to yellow bus service will be marked absent with an explanation code that will ensure their attendance record is not negatively impacted.

For further questions about this matter, please call the Pupil Transportation Hotline at 718-392-8855 or 311.