New York — The New York City borough of Queens chapter of Parents to Improve School Transportation will be at the Office of Pupil Transportation at 44-36 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 31 — Halloween — to protest what PIST calls “scary” yellow school bus routes.
This action is also endorsed by leaders of New York City Parents Fed Up with Transportation Troubles, based in Brooklyn, and Common Sense Busing, based in Manhattan. These parent advocates say OPT’s version of busing realities differs from theirs.
“OPT officials keep repeating the line that the problem was one pre-K company, and that they solved it in the third week of school,” says Sharlene Figueroa, a PIST member from Woodside, Queens, “yet our organizations get calls, emails and Facebook comments every week from parents of bus children in all grades, citywide, who are suffering from bad routes created by OPT itself.”
Ten-year-old Kwame Stevens says, “Everyone is affected by this stuff. And we kids will fight for our rights, too!”
Retired special educator Margaret DePaula of Ridgewood, Queens, insists that the conditions for students in wheelchairs on yellow buses are often unsafe. “There are no regulations about proper harnesses or headrests. Colleagues tell me buses are arriving without functioning ramps or lifts, aside from having incorrect start and end times for several sites,” De Paula states. “Disabled people fought for access to education, but today OPT’s cost cutting tactics are obstructing this right.”
All supporters of “a safer, shorter, sensible ride to school for every New York City student who needs one” are welcome to the Halloween-themed speakout, organizers say. PIST NYC can be reached at [email protected] or 347-504-3310.