NEW YORK CITY - With just over a week to go until the official first day of school September 7th, New York City parents who rely on the school buses find themselves on edge.
Donny Wechsler—a parent on the Upper East Side says a strike would be a "tremendous" inconvenience, since his son, Alex, uses it five days a week.
But if bus drivers cannot reach an agreement with the respective bus companies they work for, a strike is exactly what would happen.
According to the Department of Education, about 150,000 public school students rely on school buses. A strike would impact more than half of them-- about 80,000.
Also of note: nearly half of the 25,000 are students with special education needs.
"We are pushing for a resolution before the start of the school year," said DOE Chancellor David Banks, "to ensure every student gets the education they rightly deserve."
But on Monday, the city announced their contingency plans in the event a deal is not reached.
The first option involves supplying a student—and their parent—with emergency Metrocards for use on city subways and buses.
The second option would offer prepaid vouchers for families to cover the expense of a taxi or a rideshare, but a guardian must be present in the vehicle. The vehicle would first drop a student off at school, then take a parent or guardian to work. It would do the same in reverse at the end of the day.
The third option would assist parents who drive themselves; parents would be reimbursed at .58 cents per mile.
But advocates like the director of the nonprofit Robinhood Project, which supports city families in work and education matters, says the alternative options could still prove very difficult for families who work and families who have children that attend different school.
And regarding the rideshare option, requiring parents or guardians be with a child, Canals says, "Not every family can accommodate that."
Some families will also have a hard time with the Metrocard option, she says.
The DOE said it is not planning to offer a remote option for any student who cannot get to school.