Mumbai school bus union keeps an eye on vans flouting Centre's rule

School bus union collects evidence of vans in city flouting Centre’s ban on 13-seater vehicles ferrying students; will present it in court

Photos of schools vans and other smaller vehicles ferrying students in the city, collected by the SBOA

As city schools reopened for the new academic year, post the summer break, school vans and other small vehicles have come out in large numbers to ferry students. The School Bus Owners Association (SBOA), however, has taken serious offence because as per the Centre's orders last year, vehicles with a capacity lower than 13 seats cannot be used as school transport. SBOA, which alleged harassment by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) last month after being refused permits due to safety concerns, have now slammed the double standards of the authorities for turning a blind eye to "unsafe", below 13-seater vans.

Photos of schools vans and other smaller vehicles ferrying students in the city, collected by the SBOA

SBOA president Anil Garg has been collecting proof of such blatant flouting of the Centre's rule on city streets and will submit them in the High Court during a hearing on the school bus policy on June 21. The case pertains to the safety standards maintained by school buses and at the hearing on June 21, the government is expected to submit a report on an agreement between schools and bus service providers on taking joint onus to ensure the same.

Photos of schools vans and other smaller vehicles ferrying students in the city, collected by the SBOA
Photos of schools vans and other smaller vehicles ferrying students in the city, collected by the SBOA

"Last year, the authorities banned school vans and other small vehicles saying that their permits are still valid. But now, a new academic session has begun. Why are the authorities turning a blind eye to these below 13-seater vehicles? It's a central government rule to ban these vehicles, yet nothing is being implemented in the city," alleged Garg. He further added, "School buses have to adhere to a long list of regulations to ensure the safety of children while vans run without any check."

SB Sahasrabudhe, joint tran-sport commissioner of state, was unavailable for comment.

Centre’s guidelines

As per the Policy on Transport of School Children, 2016, vehicles with a seating capacity below 13 cannot be used for transportation of school children. Moreover, the vehicle should have space under the seats for school bags, name and contact number of school official at the back of the vehicle, speed governors and GPS installed in the vehicle. Besides, the driver of such vehicles should have a valid licence and at least 5 years of driving experience.

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