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Queens Parents Rush To Organize Carpools As School Bus Strike Begins

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TWC News: Queens Parents Rush To Organize Carpools As School Bus Strike Begins
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For many Queens parents, carpooling was the order of the day as they struggled to get their children to school as the bus drivers' and matrons' strike began on Wednesday. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

Sal and Justin Giacomazza started their morning routine a little early in the Middle Village section of Queens on Wednesday.

With school bus drivers and matrons on strike, Sal Giacomazza needed to find another way to get his son Justin to school. So he organized a carpool to take his son and others to P.S. 153.

"I said, 'Listen, I don't go to work until the afternoon, I'm offering a ride to school if you want.' They know I'm capable and that's how it's done," Sal Giacomazza said.

Carmen Sarmiento dropped her first-grader off with Giacommaza. The Department Of Education is offering two MetroCards to parents of children in kindergarten through second grade, so Sarmiento could have taken mass transit to school with their son.

But Sarmiento said she is also in school and needs to get to class herself.

"I don't have time. This is for my son, a MetroCard," she said.

When Giacommaza arrived at P.S. 153, he found a particularly chaotic drop-off. The school was ready for more cars, with seven NYPD traffic officers on hand. But even that was not enough.

"It took us 15 minutes to get around the block to drop them off here from the traffic," said one parent dropping off a child.

"People are going to get angry, and nobody needs that so early in the morning," said another.

Many parents with multiple children told NY1 that their morning was much more difficult without their usual buses.

"I have three kids. One goes to school, another is in pre-K. My husband has to take her, I have to bring him," said a parent. "Unfortunately, we don't have a choice. As a parent, I don't drive, so it's very inconvenient for us as a family."

"I have a little one at home so it's really not convenient," said another parent.

Despite the disruption, some parents said the bus drivers and matrons are entitled to the job protections they are fighting for.

"I think they're doing it for a good cause. Something they've had in effect for over 30 years and now they want to change it, makes no sense," said parent who supported the strike.

Those parents said they will stand behind the drivers, even though they will be dealing with the consequences for as long as this strike lasts.

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