Families can find out if their bus route will be affected by a yellow bus strike here on the D.O.E. website.
Thousands of parents are scrambling to figure out how they will get their kids to school Wednesday if the bus drivers’ union carries out its threat to strike.
The Department of Education said it would distribute MetroCards at school, and will reimburse those who take a car service or taxi because their children cannot take public transportation. But there are about 152,000 children affected, one third of them with special needs. Getting one’s child to school on time is complicated enough; without reliable school bus service many families told SchoolBook they will be at a loss come Wednesday morning.
Monique Reid, from Harlem, has 14-year-old twins. One of them has autism, and goes to school in New Rochelle. Reid says carpooling isn’t an option.
“As far as I know I’m the only one where my son travels long distance to go to his school. So there is no car pooling available or there’s nobody in my vicinity that can take my son to and from New Rochelle,” she said.
Lori Podvesker says safety’s her biggest concern. Her son has cerebral palsy, and goes to school in Borough Park which is seven miles away from his home in Clinton Hill.
“My son is 10 years old, he’s non-verbal, he has low muscle tone throughout his body. He is not someone who can travel independently and or with just anybody,” she said.
Kim Sweet, the executive director of the group Advocates for Children, said the back-up plans outlined by the Department of Education may be manageable for many families, but for all.
“Public transportation may not be feasible as a result of a student’s disability, and families who need a car service or taxi to get their children to school may not have the financial means or flexibility to pay carfare upfront and wait weeks for reimbursement,” Sweet said. “Additionally, families with more than one child to drop off and pick up at school and jobs to maintain may find it impossible to be in multiple places at one time.”
One parent, known as Miz Kp in her blog Sailing Autistic Seas about life with her autistic son, Angel, said the subway and bus ride to her child’s school is two hours each way.
“Yes, the D.O.E. has stated that they will provide metro cards and reimburse for car travel but we have to have the money to spend before we can be reimbursed. It costs approximately $40 by livery cab to Manhattan from our part of the Bronx. I can only imagine the cost to Brooklyn by cab,” she said.
“We are working parents. Who will reimburse us for time lost from work to take Angel to and from school everyday? MetroCards sound good on paper but it is not a feasible option for us. Angel just can’t handle the subway ride for such a long commute. I am not able to cut into my work hours to take him to and from school. Angel’s dad’s job is even less flexible,” she wrote.
Jenny Tuten wrote on Facebook: “My daughter will have to miss school – uses a wheelchair and a public transportation or cab isn’t an option.”
Elyse Singer said she would have to take two subways an one bus to get her child to school.
“It will take an hour and will need to leave by 7am so that I can turn right around and take a bus and train to work to arrive on time. Kids may get a “late excuse” but working parents won’t.”