Several drivers could not find their buses. Some of the big yellow vehicles seemed ill prepared for the roads, with no license plates or inspection stickers. At a bus depot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a driver for Reliant Transportation turned a key in his vehicle’s ignition, but it failed to start.

“I’m looking for any bus that works,” said the driver, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared running afoul of his employer.

It was before dawn on Wednesday, and the drivers, some of the 8,800 members of New York City’s main union for bus drivers, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, were back on the job after ending a strike that started about month ago over job protection issues. Though many drivers said it felt good to be working again, their early hours were defined by chaos, confusion and, some drivers said, possibly missed pickups of students who might have given up waiting on cold corners for a ride.