After Month-Long Strike, School Buses Will Be Rolling Wednesday

By Jill Colvin on February 18, 2013 5:33pm 

CITY HALL — Yellow school buses will be back up and running when school resumes on Wednesday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Monday.

After more than a month on strike, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181's nearly 8,000 workers will return to the job after mid-winter break on Wednesday, ending an ordeal for thousands of parents who've been struggling to get their kids to and from school each day.

"It is a pleasure to say that, with the union agreement to end the strike, their members can return to work and restore services to our students," Walcott said at a press conference at the Department of Education headquarters, where he thanked parents and students for their patience.

"I know it's been very difficult over the past month or so for them, and we truly empathize with what they had to go through," he said.

In addition to public school busing, the city provides bus service for some 200 private schools. Those buses are expected to be back up and running on Tuesday, Walcott said.

Robocalls will be going out to parents Monday and Tuesday letting them know the strike is over, he said.

Still, Walcott cautioned parents to expect some lingering disruptions as service gets back up and running, similar to the first day of school.

ATU Local 1181 announced on Friday evening that it was ending the strike after the Bloomberg administration showed no signs of giving into the union's demand for job protections for existing workers in new contracts that it will be putting out for bid.

The decision came after a handful of Democratic mayoral candidates, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, sent a letter to the union promising to be more accommodating to the union if they win.

As bus service resumes, Walcott asked parents to return any MetroCards they received during the strike to their children's schools. The cards will expire Wednesday.

He also asked parents to submit their reimbursement forms for transportation costs, including cab fares and gas mileage, within the next 30 days so they can begin processing returns.

Walcott estimated the city has saved nearly $60 million over the course of the strike, despite having to shell out an estimated $20.6 million on MetroCards and other transportation reimbursements.

The city has received 65 bids to run the 1,100 bus routes for special needs students.

The DOE estimates the new contracts may save the city more than $100 million over the next five years.

The city's busing costs have spiked from $71 million in 1979 to $1.1 billion today, according to the DOE.

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