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NYC parents prepare for school bus strike

Atlantic Express school buses are lined up in

Atlantic Express school buses are lined up in the company's Maspeth, Queens, facility. (Jan. 15, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

As a city school bus strike loomed Tuesday, parents of 152,000 students used Facebook, fumed, networked and brainstormed ways to shuttle their children to and from school -- and prayed that the strike would be canceled or quickly end.

"I need these buses back. My life is going to be hell," said Staten Island resident Tatyana Fanshteyn, 32, of Great Kills. Fanshteyn planned to take her sons, ages 6 and 9, with her 3-year-old in a stroller on a crowded public bus to PS 50 in Bay Terrace, also on Staten Island. Then she will have to lug her toddler back onto the bus to retrieve his older brothers when school ends at 2:20 p.m. And Fanshteyn, a stay-at-home mom, expects that working parents will be asking her to escort their kids to school as well.

The strike, which would upset parents' carefully calibrated routines, would be "really, really, really inconvenient," Fanshteyn said.

The city Department of Education issued a letter Tuesday saying MetroCards would be provided for students who normally ride buses. Reimbursement will be offered as an alternative for parents whose children receive busing from home, and kindergarten through sixth-grade kids who live in areas were public transportation is not readily available. Drivers will be reimbursed at 55 cents per mile and parents who use taxis or car services will be reimbursed for two trips a day.

"We're going to figure out car pools," said Debbie Firestone, 28, a Flushing mother of three whose daughter, Shoshana, 6, usually takes the yellow bus to her private school in Kew Gardens.

Firestone, an occupational therapist, said there is a delicate, time-sensitive ballet that takes place in homes with working parents.

"The whole day is based on that bus taking her away at 7:50 so I can leave at 7:55 to get to work," Firestone said. Michelle Wolfson, 39, a Greenwich Village parent, plans to travel uptown with three or four other families, as they did after superstorm Sandy in October. "We're starting the subway pool again," said Wolfson, a literary agent. After-school pick ups are trickiest, she said, because few people can leave their jobs in the middle of the day.

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