New York City students taking the bus could experience ‘disruptions and delays’ on the first day of classes on Thursday due to the ongoing labor dispute with the bus drivers’ union, the schools’ chancellor has warned, David Banks.
Last week, the Amalgamated Transit Union 1181, which represents more than 8,000 school bus drivers, “delayed” the process of choosing their annual routes as the union group and the city tried to reach a contractual agreement, according to Banks.
“This could result in some drivers being placed on unfamiliar bus routes and some companies not being able to provide families on school-to-school bus routes with pick-up times. pick-up and drop-off before the first day of school,” Banks said Wednesday.
Prior to each school year, bus drivers typically chose one of 4,400 routes through the five boroughs based on seniority.
The ATU delayed the selection process as it continued to demand higher salaries in all areas.
“Some families may not yet have received confirmation from their bus vendor regarding their route information,” Banks admitted Wednesday.
“We want to make parents and families aware that they may in fact experience disruption and delays due to bus transportation on the first day of school,” he said.
The ATU has pledged to maintain bus service on Thursday and Friday, but a strike beyond this week is not ruled out.
The union said it has consistently pushed for a “fair contract” and is still negotiating with bus companies and the Big Apple.
The DOE last week unveiled a costly relief plan in case its bus drivers choose to strike, which included the use of ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyfts, and MetroCards to bring thousands of children at school.
The department said it would pre-order Ubers, Lyfts or taxis for students or reimburse families up to $100 per ride for rides.
If a strike were to break out, it would be the first since January 2013.
The potential mess of bus routes isn’t the only problem schools across the city will face as the school year kicks off.
Governor Kathy Hochul warned on Wednesday that thousands of new migrant students would pose a language barrier “challenge” in classrooms.
Most of the 60,000 asylum seekers housed in the five boroughs are solely Spaniards, she explained.
In preparation, the DOE has hired 3,400 certified ESL teachers, as well as more than 1,700 fluent Spanish-speaking teachers.