Parents struggle to get kids to school because of bus strike
Suman Jain had to choose between a two-hour subway ride and a 30-minute drive to take her special-needs daughter to school, Wednesday morning.
Because of the school bus strike, Jain, 49 of Forest Hills, now has to chauffeur her fourth grader back and forth to P.S. 88 Elementary School on Catalpa Avenue in Ridgewood.
"I really depend on the bus," said Jain, who ended up driving her daughter back home herself. "The drivers and matrons really know my daughter. I trust them. It's sad what's going on."
Jain, a teaching assistant at a preschool, has forewarned her job that she'll need to come in late and leave early during the strike.
Jain's plight highlights the 152,000 New York City school children affected by the bus strike that began Wednesday.
School administrators gave the children studently MetroCards for them and their parents to compensate for transportation.
But when most parents arrived at the subway -- like Russell Langan and his wife -- they found that the card had not been activated yet. The city said the cards should be turned on by Thursday.
"You have to cut corners until the strike ends. Leave work early. It's a mess," said Langan, of Ridgewood.
Langan and his wife split their efforts to pick up their two children from school. Langan fetched his son, Louie, a fourth grader at P.S. 71 Forest Elementary, while his wife headed to Long Island City to pick up their other son, who is autistic.
Judy Delvalle, 27, of Bushwick, meanwhile, has to pick up two kids from two schools, while caring for a toddler, by herself.
"Thank God, I'm not working at the moment, or who knows what we'd do," she said while walking to a friend's car at the end of the school day.
Delvalle's son, Joey Torres is a special-needs student in the fifth grade at P.S. 88 in Ridgewood, while her other child attends P.S. 81 a few blocks away.
"It's really hard to juggle all of this by myself," Delvalle said. "Luckily, today I have a ride, but tomorrow I'm on my own and have to pick everyone up using mass transit."
Shirley Lara trudged in the sleet to P.S. 88 to pick up her first grader, Daniel Rodriguez, from school.
"I prefer [an experienced] bus driver to take my special needs child to school," said Lara, of Ridgewood. Lara walked her son home from school, while he complained his feet hurt. "My son is my main concern, but listening to the drivers, all they want is job security. You can't blame them for that."
Normally, Jose Resto's 9-year-old son takes the bus to P.S. 63 in Manhattan, but Wednesday Resto escorted his child to and from their home on Avenue D.
"It's inconvenient for everybody who takes the bus, but with this weather, it's especially hard for us," added Pagan, holding his daughter's hand bustling across the street.(with Anna Sanders)