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New York City school bus driver strike averted for first 2 days of new year, but deal not imminent

Negotiations continue as possible school bus strike looms in New York City
Negotiations continue as possible school bus strike looms in New York City 02:19

NEW YORK -- City students are due back in class on Thursday, and there's good news and bad news about a potential bus strike affecting 80,000 of them.

The good news is that a bus strike for the first two days of the school year, Thursday and Friday, has been averted. The bad news is talks are continuing and there's no indication that a deal is near.

"Nobody wants to see a strike. We know there will not be a strike for the first two days of school. That much we are assured of. But after that, fingers crossed. Everyone is still at the table trying to get a deal done," Schools Chancellor David Banks said Tuesday.

READ MORENew York City has action plan in place should school bus drivers go on strike  

Banks said negotiators will be working like crazy to avoid a school bus strike that could affect 4,400 bus routes across all five boroughs, potentially impacting 80,000 students, including 25,000 special education students.

The city has an emergency plan that includes offering MetroCards to all impacted families. The cards are valid on all buses except Express buses and will allow four trips and transfers daily.

There will also be reimbursement for alternative transportation, including taxis and personal vehicles, and ride-share services for special education students and others who need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. That includes roundtrip transportation to the parents' workplace.

Parents told CBS New York they are especially concerned about the ability of the Department of Education to transport special education students and those who live in shelters if there is a strike.

"Let me make it clear: the DOE's messaging about ok we've got this under control, everything is in place ... they've never had it in place with or without a strike," Paulette Healey said.

READ MORESchool bus driver strike in New York City would leave parents of special needs students scrambling for transportation

MTA officials said there is plenty of space on subways and buses to transport extra students.

"We have been coordinating closely with the DOE on some tactical operational issues so that we are ready to supplement in the event that there is a strike and there is some specific needs that need to be addressed," Chairman Janno Lieber said.

"We're working with the Department of Education very tactically and granularly -- are there particular schools that we might like to have an extra bus. We call them 'wildcats,' which are not scheduled buses, if we see crowding. So, we are going to keep a close eye on that. That's our goal, for any students that come on to our system, that we are prepared to get them to and from school." NYC Transit President Richard Davey added.

In the case of special ed students, officials said they have been pre-cleared for rides-hare services. The MTA said it has already given the DOE 1.7 million MetroCards, just in case.

Parents also voiced concerns about how they will be reimbursed for the costs of taxis, car services or using private vehicles.

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