NEW YORK CITY — The school bus strike continued Thursday as parents scurried for a second straight day to find alternative ways to get their children to class.
Just 30 percent of the city's yellow bus routes — 2,320 of 7,700 — were up and running Thursday, even fewer than Wednesday, when about 3,000 routes were running, the Department of Education said.
Two protesters were also arrested in connection with the strike Wednesday morning, police and the DOE said.
One man, identified by police as a union member, was arrested for disorderly conduct at 7:45 a.m. at a bus depot in The Bronx after he laid down in front of a bus, police said. A second man, who police said was 44 years old, was arrested 45 minutes later for criminal trespass at a bus yard on Staten Island.
Police said the man, who they said was a supporter and not a member of the union, was prohibited from being at the yard, police said.
More than 8,000 city school bus drivers are fighting for job security as the city has put its contracts with private bus companies up for bid for the first time in 33 years, leaving bus operators with the possibility that they could lose their jobs come June.
“I continue to urge the mayor to meet with us to resolve this strike, and it's within his power to do so,” said Michael Cordiello, president of Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union. “It's unfortunate that those that are hurt most by the mayor’s actions and the chancellor’s actions are the city's most vulnerable — school children and their parents."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the drivers were being selfish.
“In a year where students have already missed a week or more of school because of Hurricane Sandy,” he said, “we certainly don’t need to make it more difficult to get to school. We have told the unions in unequivocal terms, ‘Do not walk out on our students.’”
Fed up school bus drivers lined up outside depots before dawn Wednesday to protest, leaving parents of about 150,000 students scrambling. Outside Atlantic Express bus depot in Ridgewood, Queens, protesters held signs such as, “Would you entrust your child to the lowest bidder?” and “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
“We love our jobs," said Kathleen Baron, 48, who has been working as a matron for the last 16 years. "We don’t want to leave our children behind. But we have our own children and have to survive.”
The strike forced parents like Bobby Pineiro, 43, to drive his 6-year-old daughter to school.
“I had to change my whole schedule around, my whole routine in the morning,” said Pineiro, a school guidance counselor.