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Walcott: City Saved $80 Million During Month-Long School Bus Strike

City Spent $20.6M Transporting Students To School, Saved On Salaries
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NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and DOE officials Eric Goldstein and Katherine Grimm update New Yorkers on end of yellow bus strike (credit: Rich Lamb/WCBS 880)

NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and DOE officials Eric Goldstein and Katherine Grimm update New Yorkers on end of yellow bus strike (credit: Rich Lamb/WCBS 880)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)The month-long New York City school bus strike has officially come to an end, but the city spent about $20.6 million shuttling children to school in that time.

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced the total price tag of the extra transport on Sunday. But Walcott noted that the city actually saved $80 million during the strike because it didn’t have to pay the bus drivers.

The city provided students free MetroCards during the strike. Parents of younger children were also given MetroCards so they could accompany their kids to school. Taxi and car service fare was also reimbursed by the city for kids that could not take mass transit to school. The amount the city spent is expected to rise as more parents submit expense reports, Walcott said.

The strike ended Friday evening and classes will resume Wednesday following an abbreviated mid-winter break. Walcott said robo-calls are going out Monday and Tuesday to alert all public school parents that the buses will be back in operation on Wednesday.

Walcott said he’s glad to have members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 returning to work.

“I’m glad to see the strike that’s over, quite frankly. So that was my reaction more than anything else because for me, what that represents is our students are able to get back to school and our families won’t be frustrated,” Walcott said.

Some 8,000 bus drivers and aides went on strike Jan. 16. The union wanted the city to include protections for current employees in future contracts with bus companies. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a court ruling prohibited the city from doing so. The bone of contention was over the city’s plan to put bus contracts out to bid to lower costs. That issue has not yet been resolved despite the strike ending.

“We cannot afford to let our students miss any more school at all,” Wolcott told 1010 WINS reporter Stan Brooks. “They have had enough disruptions in their lives.”

The city spends nearly $7,000 a year for each student on a bus, far more than any other city. The mayor wants to rein in the costs and eliminate job protection.

The strike impacted about 152,000 public school students.

Full service for public schools is resuming on Wednesday after mid-winter recess but Walcott says some non-public school routes will begin Tuesday.

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