NYC school bus drivers back on the job following month-long strike

Posted at 11:32 AM, Feb 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-20 11:32:32-05

Yellow school buses are once again winding their way through the city, ferrying students to school as drivers are back behind the wheel.

After a month out of work and on the picket lines in all kinds of bad weather, there were lots of smiles in the early morning darkness.

One driver at the Pioneer Bus Company yard on Zerega Avenue in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx told the PIX 11 Morning News ” I am happy to be back.  Happy for the kids.  The priority has always been the kids.”

Asked how she felt another employee told us “Feel good, strong, professional.”

For the first time in a month some 8000 bus drivers and aides or matrons hit the road again Wednesday morning, as the strike over job protections in future contracts was suspended. ” It beats being at home making no money.” said another driver.

On Tuesday, the schools chancellor, Dennis Walcott said parents should should expect things to run normally.

“Maybe the first day there will be a few hiccups like the first day of school but after the drivers settle in to their routes I expect they will do their usual good job.”

The union for drivers told us many of the bus companies called in mechanics Tuesday, while students were still on vacation, to get the buses ready to roll. After sitting idle for a month some had dead batteries and other minor problems.

As service resumes here’s what you need to know. Students assigned new routes during the strike will continue to be served by that route. The city says it saved 60 million dollars in transportation costs during the strike.

The school Department of Education is asking parents to return MetroCards they handed out to parents and students to their child’s school. They will expire Wednesday. In the meantime reimbursement for cabs, car service, and mileage must be submitted within 30 days.

The city says the end of the strike is a victory for parents students and the schools but the union says this isn’t over yet. They agreed to go back to work once they got an agreement from all of the major Democratic mayoral candidates to revisit the issue of job protections after the election when Mayor Bloomberg who refused to negotiate is out of office.