Check out our previous blog post on the current busing problems here.
We in PIST
NYC have been saying for eight years that school transportation is run by the
wrong people. The fact that the Chancellor has denounced one company and fired
the top Office of Pupil Transportation executive is refreshing, but our
children’s safe travel and access to education remain at the mercy of companies
and executives whose first priority is money.
overhaul would not just change some faces, but would change the structure and
empower the real stakeholders in school busing: the disability community;
families of riders of all income levels, races, and languages; the workers who
drive and attend to them; educators. Each of these already have
organizations that represent us.
these stakeholders, along with civil rights lawyers, have stated practical
methods for fixing everyday school bus route problems. Parents to Improve
School Transportation and Amalgamated Transit Union local 1181-1061 have been
advocating for a School Bus Bill of Rights to prevent route problems
suggestions are all on record; we have documentation from various City Council
hearings, proposals raised to the now-Mayor and now-Public Advocate by Attorney
Norman Siegel, notes from multiple parent discussions with Office of Pupil
Transportation Director Alexandra Robinson, and a study paid for by the
Department of Education itself. Further, at a 2013 mayoral candidates’ forum,
Bill DeBlasio agreed to: “an independent commission on school busing, with
representation from disability advocates, unions, and parent groups, on
standards for bidders, routes, safety, training, and fair labor practices.” Was
Chancellor Carranza advised of any of this?
missing from most coverage of the scandal is this: The sad state of New York
City school busing got worse after Bloomberg’s administration undermined the
Employee Protection Provisions (EPP) that the union had won fair and square.
The companies are impelled to use strict cost-cutting to lower their bids for
DOE/OPT contracts; they offer worse pay/benefits and conditions to school bus
drivers, attendants and mechanics; hundreds were made jobless or found
retirement more appealing; the result is a shortage of trained, experienced
bus professionals. [Indeed, a cohort of school bus companies has been in
court lately, trying to eliminate EPP altogether against the testimony of
parents, workers, and one or two other companies. If they win, we expect more
of the same. Even if they lose, these proceedings stall the start of new route
contract bids; so OPT recently extended contracts that in
theory might not have been renewed otherwise.]
school bus routes are doubled-up and miserable this Fall! Consider it on a
small scale: Any time there is only one driver willing to tolerate a low
wage job--where there used to be two drivers enjoying a secure career,
that’s when students get picked up late or not at all, have routes which stop
at four schools instead of one or two, get yelled at, or worse. When there is little
to no investment in climate control or upgrading of vehicles, that’s when
children get dehydrated, or their car seats or wheelchairs do not attach properly, or the bus breaks down.
this by thousands, and you will understand our doubt that merely removing CEO
Eric Goldstein or Grandpa’s Bus would make all 150,000 riders safer (We also
think the figures and emphasis on background checks are overstated to
sensationalize rather than solve the problem).
overhaul of school busing would have a long term goal of public ownership
of the bus yards, to stop a chunk of our tax money in the busing budget from
going straight to profit for individual companies--to spend it instead on
upgrading and “greening” the vehicles. We look forward to civil service-type
standards for regulating employee recruitment, training, and retention.
- New York
City students deserve a skilled workforce that is compensated with EPP, and is
listened to about ways to improve the situation.
- We believe
that unionized bus crews are the buffer against employer moves that harm young
people, whose lives and education matter!
- We want
workers' and parents' grievances about long, overcrowded routes to be
- We want a
mass way to enforce and strengthen existing regulations on travel time limits,
bus temperatures, and other conditions, rather than leaving it up to individual
political appointees or company owners.
we urge all NYC communities and labor to get involved in our campaign for a
School Bus Bill of Rights. For more
information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
For information in fluent Spanish, please contact https://www.facebook.com/groups/221709251868819/
to Improve School Transportation