Providence gears up for potential bus driver strike

Police Chief Hugh Clements, Superintendent Chris Maher, Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Pare, and Mayor Jorge Elorza discuss preparations for a bus driver strike. Photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News.

By Tessa Roy, WPRO News and The Associated Press

As contract negotiations between a bus drivers union and bus company stall, Providence is preparing in case the drivers go on strike.

Mayor Jorge Elorza said the city considered alternate transportation options like other bus companies, RIPTA, Uber, or taxis, but none ended up being feasible. Instead, Providence is working with local rec centers as well as utilizing bus monitors and a police presence at schools to ensure safe arrivals and dismissals.

“The scale that’s required to get all of our kids to and from school, there is no ready, easy alternative to what we have,” Elorza said.

Elorza said each school has an arrival and dismissal plan, plus policies on lateness and absence will be adjusted to be more “flexible” for students. The first three days of the strike will count as excused absences, and Elorza said students can make up missed work at the end of the strike.

Superintendent Chris Maher urged parents to keep emergency contact information up to date with names of people authorized to pick up their kids. He added schools cannot send students home unless those picking them up have valid photo ID.

Nicholas Williams, spokesperson for the bus drivers union Teamsters Local 251, said Thursday that a strike will be announced at a later date, but drivers would not strike on Friday. Bus company First Student said in a statement it is “extremely disappointed” that union leaders walked out of a meeting with no deal reached.

Providence officials discuss potential actions if negotiations between a school bus drivers union and the bus company go sour and lead to a strike.

Posted by NewsTalk 99.7 & AM 630 WPRO on Friday, September 21, 2018

  • thomas quinn

    What is it with this mayor? Doesn’t he understand that it costs money to run a city and employees need occasional raises and increases in benefits, especially now that 15 School Zone cameras have been installed? These cameras have generated millions of dollars. Give the bus drives a raise, give the teachers a raise with this “revenue”. According to Elorza, “Ultimately this is about keeping families safe, especially in areas with many children around.” he said when the program launched. “Tragedies can be prevented with innovative solutions and that’s exactly what these cameras do.” Also an innovative source of revenue coming into the city. Yet he denies that was the motivation. Can you say liar? These cameras are strictly about raising revenue, not protecting children, no matter what he says. Remember Providence residents, you elected this clown. He couldn’t care less about the children of Providence as evidenced by the continuing violence in many Providence schools, especially the Middle Schools. Many Middle Schools don’t have a school resource officer due to budget cuts. So money is more important than the safety of a child. Otherwise all schools would have SROs.

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