Parents protest ‘long, twisted’ school-bus routes

WW photo: Ellen Catalinotto

New York – With 21st century technology and vehicles, why should thousands of young and/or disabled children in New York City suffer long, twisted commutes between school and home? Does this have something to do with the fact that the billionaire, anti-union mayor put himself in charge of the Department of Education?

To the parents and communities of these children, there is no acceptable excuse for the negligence of the DOE’s Office of Pupil Transportation, which once again cut out more than 300 routes at the start of September when compared to the number in June. Students were left with no route or packed onto buses that pick up from multiple schools whose start and dismissal times differ by 30 to 75 minutes.

Various activists who live this problem are taking the lead in fighting back by all available means, including getting exposure in the mass media. The city has tried to calm the anger by firing one of the companies linked to certain extreme cases. But parents say this step has failed to stop the problems.

Pictured here is the press conference hosted by From Day One Coalition the morning of Sept. 19 in front of DOE headquarters in Manhattan.

Leaders of Parents to Improve School Transportation spoke out: “It’s not just pre-K, it’s not just one company, it’s not just special education.” Calling for unity, they denounced the lax standards for wheelchair safety and highlighted the strain bus trouble takes on families.

PIST joined Crystal Alfano of the Facebook group “New York City Parents Fed Up with Transportation Troubles” in likening the long routes to child abuse. Common Sense Busing, Brooklyn Movement Center and other community groups and elected officials also addressed the crowd, which included children who use these buses.

City Councilmember Robert Jackson announced hearings on the school bus system to be held Oct. 10. Parents and the bus drivers/attendants’ union are mobilizing for this and other opportunities to build the movement for a School Bus Bill of Rights to enforce safer, sensible routes.

PIST NYC can be found on Facebook at pistnyc@gmail.com or call 347-504-3310 (se habla español). Donations are welcome.