NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Parents and some lawmakers in Queens are furious over a last-minute decision that’s left kids with no choice but to spend three hours on Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses to get to school.
Now, there’s pressure to reverse that decision, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.
With only sixth graders getting yellow bus service, Ann Marie Murphy said she doesn’t understand why her son, along with hundreds of other seventh and eighth graders, can’t get on what are now half-empty yellow buses.
“They’re children,” Murphy said. “They are 11 years old!”
The day before school parents of seventh and eighth graders got a call from administrators saying yellow bus service has been cut off this year at Junior High School 194 in Whitestone.
That’s protocol at the more than 70 public schools in the five boroughs. But in Whitestone the public bus route takes up to three hours, which is why they had been exempt from using MTA buses.
“One of the bus routes its desolated. If the child feels in danger or feels sickly or any reason that they are not comfortable there’s no place to go for protection,” Murphy said.
Now, just to catch the morning bus Murphy’s eighth grader walks 10 blocks from home in College Point. Then the bus drops the child off at Parsons Boulevard where he catches a second bus, which brings him to his middle school in Whitestone.
The way home is even worse. Instead of boarding a yellow school bus right outside school doors like sixth graders do, he has to walk a few blocks and cross Francis Lewis Boulevard — a six-lane road.
At that point Murphy takes an MTA bus to Parsons Boulevard, where he gets on a second bus. That one takes him to College Point Boulevard and 14th Avenue. He then walks nine blocks home.
The Board of Education sent Smith a statement saying, ”For years, on the issue of student transportation, the DOE has gone above and beyond what the state requires, offering busing to students who would not ordinarily be eligible.”
On Monday outside of School 194 City Councilman Dan Halloran met with parents to help them fill out waivers to get yellow bus service back. But it only applies if the bus route has a transfer at an intersection deemed dangerous.
“It makes sense if you live in Manhattan, where there is a school every five bocks and you can throw a stone out the window and hit one — not in the communities like this,” Halloran said.
A ride that normally takes 25 minutes on a school bus is now up to a three-hour trek. Halloran is co-sponsoring a resolution that would require New York City to provide yellow buses to all children grades 3-8 who live more than a mile from school.
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