A paralyzing school-bus strike threatened to leave thousands of city kids stranded and scrambling to find another way to get to class this morning.
The devastating job action, called Monday by the union representing most of the city’s yellow bus drivers and matrons, left as many as 152,000 children — including 54,000 special-needs kids — faced with travel nightmares or even getting stuck at home for the duration of the work stoppage.
City officials took to the airwaves yesterday to blast Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union for leaving the students — many of whom have already suffered through Hurricane Sandy and missed a week of school — in the lurch.
“The union drivers are striking against our children, plain and simple,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
The city distributed free MetroCards to tens of thousands of students yesterday to help them with the expected transportation chaos. Free monthly cards also will be handed out to parents of kids in second grade and younger today.
But MTA officials acknowledged that the cards might not work at all subway stations until later today, nor on all public bus routes until late tomorrow.
“The first couple of days will be tough,” said Walcott.
The last time city school-bus drivers went on strike was 34 years ago. It lasted three months.
Today’s anticipated strike was sparked over a job-protection clause that the city removed from newly bid-out contracts.
Local 1181 claims that up to 2,500 of its members’ jobs will be at stake if new bus companies are awarded contracts in June without the protective clause.
“We’ve tried every option to avoid a strike, but our members feel that their back is to the wall and they must take a stand on this issue,” said Local 1181 chief Michael Cordiello.