New York City — “OPT — get the kids to school on time!” was chanted by people at a lunchtime rally called by Parents to Improve School Transportation at New York City Hall on Oct. 16. The action was held before a City Council hearing on the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT), which oversees the city’s school bus routes.
Parents of children with disabilities spoke to the media about the lack of regular bus schedules, long wait times, outrageously long days for bused children and lack of communication with parents. They also criticized the poor pay and training for drivers and matrons, while owners of private companies cash in.
A statement distributed by PIST read, in part: “Before we go to the City Council Education Committee’s 1 p.m. hearing on some proposals to regulate the Office of Pupil Transportation, let’s speak out on the busing we envision: a quality public service for 150,000 NYC students with and without disabilities; a long-term job with appropriate training and compensation, not an ATM for bus company millionaires and corruptible Department of Education appointees.”
It continued: “Let’s remind the Department of Education and Mayor Bill de Blasio of the proposals parent groups, unions and civil rights advocates have already given them over the years. Let’s build the momentum for a real School Bus Bill of Rights that respects and reflects riders, the disability community and workers.”
After the rally, parents and supporters marched around City Hall, chanting and handing out leaflets, before entering the hearing.