NYC school bus service resumes after strike
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City school bus drivers who serve 152,000 children were back at work Wednesday after a monthlong strike.
"We're happy to be back," said driver Philip Pan, 57, whose dashboard was adorned with a hand-drawn "Welcome back" card, complete with a picture of a bus.
"The parents are really happy we're here," said Pan, who's been on the job eight years. "We're like a family. We're really close with these kids."
Regular schedules resumed on all 7,700 routes serving the nation's largest public school system. Five thousand of those routes were affected by the strike. The city has about 1.1 million children in public schools.
Drivers and assistants known as matrons from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 walked off the job Jan. 16. That forced students to take taxis, public transportation or car services. Many of those affected are disabled.
Union officials called off the strike Friday after leading mayoral candidates promised to address job security issues if elected.
Matron Sandy Cardinale, 56, said her time off the job "was horrible."
"It's nice to be working with these kids again," said the 14-year veteran. "We missed them. I'm so glad it's over."
The school bus strike was the first in the city since 1979.
The city spent roughly $20.6 million in transit cards, taxis and gas mileage to get tens of thousands of stranded students to school during the strike; some still didn't get there at all, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Monday. But he estimated the city saved $80 million because it wasn't paying bus companies during the strike.
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