Boston parents and students rose this morning to the familiar sights and sounds of yellow school buses rumbling through the city’s streets, after hundreds of drivers ended a surprise one-day strike that affected more than 30,000 students.
The strike’s end came as a welcome relief for parents — and some school bus drivers, who said the strike was never intended to hurt the city’s children.
“We don’t want the children to suffer. That is why we took to the wheels today,’’ said driver Fred Floreal after picking up a young boy at a corner on Blue Hill Avenue in Grove Hall.
“The children rely on us. The parents rely on us. Of course, we had to defend ourselves [against transportation contractor Veolia]. But we did not want to take it out on the children, because we are parents, too.”
Many parents who depend on the bus were waiting with their children in sweatshirts and backpacks as early as 6:30 on this chilly morning. When the buses pulled up, they hugged their sons and daughters, who boarded the bus, thankful they did not have to walk or take public transportation to school.
Lenin Fuentes, a Dorchester father, works overnight and gets home at 6 a.m. Then he has to take get his three children to school, and they all attend different schools. It was too much on Tuesday.
“I had to decide which one of my children had to stay home,’’ said Fuentes, who kept his two youngest home.
Today he stood with two of them on Norfolk Street in Dorchester waiting for the yellow bus to pull up.
When the bus came, his 7-year-old boarded gladly.
The morning got off to a harried start for Maria Santos. She woke early to get one of her three children on the bus at 6:47 a.m. on Harvard Street. Then she returned home to get her other two young children, both of whom were being picked up at 8 a.m. at different locations.
In her high-heeled black wedges, she trotted to the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Harvard Street, where some older children were waiting, and dropped off her 7-year-old around 7:45 a.m. And then she made a mad dash back up Harvard Street to get her 5-year-old on the other bus. But by the time she got to Warner Street, the bus had already taken off, leaving Santos chasing it without success.
“I don’t know,’’ she said, clearly flustered. “Sometimes the bus comes early, sometimes late.”
And today she didn’t make it.
Stephen Gilot waited nearby with his three children when a school bus rolled up and picked up one of them.
“Bye, bye, Dad,’’ said his 5-year-old daughter, Marthilde.
He kissed her, and she boarded the bus, off to another day of school.
In Mattapan, Jerome Devonish, 35, a graphic designer, waited with his stepdaughter, Justice, 6, on Norfolk Street.
“It was a big relief when I heard the buses were back out, but my confidence is a little shaky,” he said.
He said if he could ask the bus drivers a question, “I’d ask them how’d they feel if their kids were stranded on the street. They’re just little kids; they’re not adults.”
He said his daughter had gotten a ride from police to school on Tuesday.
“I probably would’ve given her a ride on the handlebars of my bike or found a cab, if she didn’t get a ride from the police,” he said.