School bus driver Turns to Tara for answers on COVID-19 layoffs

More than 1,000 local bus drivers were laid off due to the coronavirus, and a number of them have Turned to Tara for help getting some answers on what the future holds for them.

News 12 Staff

Apr 1, 2020, 9:09 PM

Updated 1,508 days ago

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More than 1,000 local bus drivers were laid off due to the coronavirus, and a number of them have Turned to Tara for help getting some answers on what the future holds for them. 
For the past three decades, bus driver Mike Cullen has taken special-needs children to and from school in Yonkers, but the coronavirus has put the brakes on his beloved bus route.
Ten days ago, Cullen and 630 of his co-workers at the Royal Coach Bus Company – which is about 80% of its staff – lost their jobs.
“A lot of people were crying. A lot of us live day to day, week to week to put food on the table,” he says. 
Cullen says he doesn’t blame the company’s owner.
“I have people who have been with me for up to 30 plus years and now they are all laid off,” says Steven DiPaolo.  “It was probably one of the hardest thing I have had to do.”
Over a video call, DiPaolo told News 12 he had no choice when 12 out of the 14 school districts he services stopped paying him, despite the fact they had contracts for the duration of the school year.
“I have tried and continued to work with them, either on the phone, email. They don't get back to you.”
Cullen, a longtime employee, says this is why he Turned to Tara.
News 12 emailed and called all 12 districts, but not one has responded.
Tara Rosenblum was told from one source that the reason could be related to the fact the state won't reimburse schools for services they no longer use.
The New York Bus Contractors Association, one of the largest unions for drivers in the state, called student transportation the "backbone of the educational system,” and slammed school leaders for not paying up.
Many of the region's largest bus companies are also resorting to layoffs - about 1,300 of them in Westchester in just two weeks.
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