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Bus Problems Could Leave Thousands Of NYC School Kids In Need Of A Ride

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Some 40,000 school children may not have bus service when they come back from Christmas break.

It's a sight that's about to end – yellow school buses rolling down New York City streets.

"Oh my god, what a mess. What's gonna happen?" Manhattan parent Carin Van Der Donk wondered aloud to CBS 2's Andrea Grymes on Thursday.

The Department of Education was expected to send out letters Thursday and Friday to parents of some 40,000 students saying their bus company, Atlantic, informed the city it will not provide transportation when school starts after winter recess on Jan. 2.

The letter says Atlantic and its affiliated companies, Amboy, Staten Island Bus and Atlantic Queens Bus, have filed for bankruptcy protection.

Van Der Donk said Atlantic Bus picks up her special needs son in front of their house.

"It's a mess. And it's going to affect my child and our entire family," she said.

She said she first found out about all of this not from the school, but from a local parents group.

Outgoing Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the city has a plan in place to get students to school. According to the letter, the city is working to get another bus company to take over Atlantic's 1,500 routes. If that doesn't happen by Jan. 2, special MetroCards will go out to students and to parents of students in kindergarten through sixth grade. They'll be distributed at schools on Jan. 2.

Parents of special education students can get reimbursed for privately arranged transportation, Grymes reported.

The DOE said Atlantic provides about 20 percent of city school bus service.

Atlantic employees said their company shutting down is not only leaving them in the cold, but families, too.

"Autistic kids, special needs, now they have no way to get to school," bus matron Rose Jamieson said.

The letter also says officials understand the anxiety and inconvenience this situation may bring, and they appreciate parents support.

CBS 2 did try contacting management at Atlantic on Thursday, but was not able to reach anyone.

A spokesperson for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said the new administration will work to find a solution that does not put unnecessary burdens on parents and children in the affected area.

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