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Special Needs Students Adjust To New Commutes To School

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A Queens mother of a special needs student spent most of the first morning of the yellow bus strike trying to figure out how to get her son to class on MTA buses. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, Susan Samuel of South Ozone Park was bracing herself for a tough commute with her 8-year-old son Josiah. He is a student with special needs who lives several miles away from his elementary school.

Normally, his school bus would have picked him up like it did on Tuesday, but with workers on strike, his mother rode an MTA bus with him to school.

Walking to the bus stop in the rain, they had a sense of humor at first, but they lost it once they got on the bus. They were unsure of the route.

After speaking with the driver, Samuel was told she needed to transfer to another bus to get to her son's school.

Adding to her frustration, the Department of Education only gave her one MetroCard. She had to pay for her own ride.

DOE officials said parents of special needs children should pick up their MetroCards at the child's school beginning Wednesday. The cards should be activated by Thursday morning.

"An eight-year-old, who is a special needs child is supposed to take two buses to school?" Samuel said.

Making matters worse, the driver told her to get off at the wrong stop.

"We're kind of like stuck in a little bit of situation," Josiah said.

After walking a few blocks, an MTA worker got them back on track and Josiah was able to make it to school on time.

Samuel headed back to the bus stop after dropping him off, but after a long wait she hopped into a cab.

"That's too much, I'm sorry," she said. "Look how long we sat there waiting for the bus. It's too much."

Samuel said if the strike continues, she would have to find a more convenient way to get her son to school. She returned home two hours after leaving her house.

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