Dude, Where’s My Bus? How to Amplify Your Child’s Transportation Issues & Advocate Like a Champ

If the NYC DOE’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) is a thorn in your side, raise your hand. (Ooh, Mr. Kotter!!! Pick me! Ooh! Ooh!) Pupil Transportation in NYC has always been bad. All one has to do is Google “NYC DOE” with”student transportation” and years’ worth of articles full of horror stories will unfurl on the screen. Here’s one from 2011!  Good times. Yes, there is a nationwide driver shortage. But now in NYC, during the age of Covid, the wheels have completely fallen off the bus.

There are approximately 224,000 students with special needs and/or disabilities in NYC. Months into the school year, there were several reports of children still waiting for transportation. And without a remote schooling option for the 2021-2022 academic year, they went without their education and services. Students experience excessive ride times, two hours or more. And some days, the bus doesn’t show up at all. The situation is so bad, for those that complain loudly enough, OPT has resorted to sending their children to school in Ubers, Lyfts, or private car services ordered through the LimoSys network, aka the Access-A-Ride program. The kicker? Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for both drop-off and pick up. How many families can spare that kind of time away from work? So, that “solution” is a non-starter.

Parents to Improve Student Transportation NYC (yes, that’s PIST NYC) has countless resources on its website. Yet another advocacy group, includeNYC, a clearinghouse of Special Education resources, posted an official statement about busing for Special Needs students. But in the short term, these actions can help amplify your complaints.

1) Report every incident to OPT: Call their hotline at (718) 392-8855. Obtain a case number for each incident.

2) Inform the Office of Public Advocate: Jumaane Williams’ office has the power and authority to hold the DOE & OPT accountable. PLEASE send a summary of your complaints with case numbers to gethelp@advocate.nyc.gov
Sent your synopsis even if your issues have been resolved or your cases have been (as been reported) unceremoniously closed by OPT without explanation.
3) Please share steps 1 & 2 with anyone who has experienced transportation failures, even if their issues have been resolved. It is imperative the Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams’ team have as many complaints as possible. They are aggregating data and creating an accurate scope of the problem. It is Williams’ office that has the power to hold DOE & OPT accountable. They ARE listening.
4) Inform your City Council Member & other Reps of your transportation difficulties. 
Find out who your City Council rep is HERE: https://council.nyc.gov/
Who are ALL your representatives? Find out HERE: https://www.mygovnyc.org/
5) Testify at or attend the York City Council’s Committee on Education Hearing THIS, Thursday, November 18 at 10:00 AM Virtual Zoom-Webinar, Oversight: Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in the COVID Era.
  • TESTIFY: To give a statement via video or phone register HERE: https://council.nyc.gov/testify/.
  • You must pre-register to give a statement or you will not be permitted to speak. Testimony will be limited to two (2) minutes per person, written testimony may be as long as you wish.
  • VIEW ONLY LOG IN HEREhttps://council.nyc.gov/livestream/. Virtual Room 1.
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