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No End In Sight To School Bus Strike

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TWC News: No End In Sight To School Bus Strike
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Thousands of drivers and bus matrons hit the picket lines while tens of thousands of students and their parents had to find new ways to get to school. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

After the first day of the citywide school bus shutdown, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested life will go on even if the yellow buses do not.

"People are very creative and inventive and New Yorkers rise to whatever the challenge is," Bloomberg said. "It's not going to be easy for them but each day you should find more and more able to find some way to cope."

As nearly 9,000 bus drivers, chaperones and mechanics worked picket lines, demanding city contracts protect their seniority rights, City Hall used statistics to try to downplay the impact of their strike on the 152,000 students who lost bus service.

But when it comes to the students with disabilities, most of whom rely on yellow buses, attendance was actually down more than 40 percent. Fewer than half of them made it to school.

Students shouldn't expect their rides to return anytime soon. City Hall's message after day one of the strike was that there is no end in sight.

"I hope this does not last a long time but it's not going to last more than June because that's the end of the school year," Bloomberg said.

The mayor said that because the bus drivers work for private contractors, the city can't interfere in their negotiations. But the union says only Bloomberg can get the buses going again.

"Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott please come negotiate with us. Put the EPP's back in the bid," said Michael Cordiello, president of the striking union, Amalgamated Transportation Union Local 1181. "Protect the workers that have the experience. Protect the children of New York, you can do it. Please come forward and end the strike, it's in your hands."

But the mayor washed his hands of responsibility, saying public employees and taxpayers are his concern. He said, if need be, students will get new bus drivers and chaperones -- and they'll learn to live with it.

Parents Find New Ways To Get Kids To School

Meantime, parents will be forced to use public transportation, taxis, their own cars or carpools to get their kids to class.

All students affected by the strike were given MetroCards that expire on June 26, the last day of the school year.

And parents of young children can get MetroCards from the school, but those may only work on the subway today as buses have not yet been programmed to accept them.

That should be done by tomorrow.

Parents will also be reimbursed 55 cents for every mile put on their cars if they drive their kids, or for the cost of livery cabs or taxis by submitting receipts.

For more information about which buses are running - or reimbursement procedures - go to the city's website, nyc.gov.

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