Safety norms for school buses took centre stage after the molestation case of a four-year-old schoolgirl by a bus attendant came to light on Monday.
Auto rickshaw drivers complain that RTO officers are lenient with bus drivers and often, don’t even check them for the mandatory badges. Representation pic
City-based auto rickshaw drivers and the union have pinned the blame on the RTO for their lackadaisical attitude concerning school bus safety. They claim that it is the RTO's responsibility to make sure that school transport services comply with the prescribed guidelines.
"All those who transport passengers in their vehicles, are required to have a Public Service Badge (PSB). Autos and buses too fall in this bracket.
While issuing permits to school buses, this badge is not checked and is also ignored by RTO inspectors during road checks. On the other hand, rickshaw drivers are treated unfairly and are fined for every norm violated during checks," said Bappu Bhave, president of Auto Rickshaw Student Transport Union.
Responding to these allegations, Pune Regional Transport Officer Jeetendra Patil, said, "It is not true that only auto rickshaws are targeted by the RTO. Drives are being carried out all over the city and we are checking school buses, autos, and other vehicles.
We are doing regular checks of all transport vehicles in the city after the untoward incident took place. Even before this, school buses were properly checked according to the safety norms."
Number of schools in the city
The number of rickshaws transporting students daily from home to school
The Pune RTO swung into action and inspected school transport vehicles on Thursday. The assessment was carried out in different areas of the city. Around 250 transport vehicles were checked, out of which 23 school buses were found flouting the norms and eight were found plying without female attendants. There was not a single female conductor in any of the school buses. Regional Transport Officer, Jeetendra Patil said, "The main objective of the drive is to create awareness amidst bus owners and school authorities so that they abide by the school transport safety norms. Strict action will be taken if the rules are not followed." Patil added, "Apart from issuing memos, we have given a month’s time for bus owners to get the necessary changes done and get the RTOs approval."