The brutal rape and subsequent murder of a 23-year-old woman inside a private bus by six men in Delhi about two weeks ago has taught us many lessons, with many more to be learnt. Here, in Mumbai, private and school bus owners have begun expediting the process of installing Global Positioning System (GPS) inside their vehicles for enhanced monitoring. Transport experts claim that these devices are very important for owners to keep track, especially if any of these buses leave their designated parking spot at odd hours.
Under such circumstances, a bus owner will receive a message about the vehicle’s movement and he can then take necessary steps like calling up the driver or informing the police. “The GPS can be fed with details about the bus’s usual plying hours, so if it is driven outside that period the apparatus will automatically relay a communication to the proprietor and display the route on which the vehicle is,” explained a transport expert.
This initiative has been started by the Mumbai Bus Malak Sangh, which is a parent body of owners of all private buses, including tourist and school buses. There are around 3,500 private buses, inclusive of 1,800 school buses, in Mumbai. Sources said that the process of installing GPS began earlier this month, but the Delhi gang rape incident has made them expedite the operation.
“We have initiated the drive and over 300 of these vehicles have had these devices instated,” confirmed Harsh Kotak, general secretary, Mumbai Bus Malak Sangh.
Moreover, these GPS devices have been equipped with software so that if an owner feels his driver is misusing the vehicle, the former can feed information into the apparatus to stop the bus. As part of the process, the proprietor can send a message via the satellite, which in turn would command the bus to stop.
“When the speed of the bus reduces to 20 kmph and less, this message will activate and the bus will automatically come to a halt. We can then take necessary action,” explained another bus owner. A senior RTO official said that quite often drivers of private buses take short trips without informing owners for earning a few extra bucks. “This is when things go wrong at times. Such GPS devices are essential for better monitoring by the owners,” he maintained.
Each GPS device is being installed at a cost of Rs 9,000. “Presently there is no official directive for this. But it is good if bus owners are taking the initiative,” said transport commissioner VN More.
Members of bus associations claim they are fearful of promoting the use of GPS among bus owners across the state as manufacturers of the devices may hike rates.