Adding to the woes of hundreds of school students and their parents in the city, the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) has proposed to hike bus fees by Rs 300 per student. The move comes at a significant time as school exams are slated to begin later this month. In fact, the organisation has threatened to take buses off the roads from the end of this month in protest.
According to the SBOA officials, the proposed hike is a result of the increase in expenditure caused by the mandatory additions to the School Bus Policy by the state government. "When the state talks about road safety, school buses and students are seldom mentioned. But whenever it comes to addition of new rules, we are the only body to suffer," said Anil Garg, SBOA president, this morning.
Garg said the organisation would conduct a series of meetings today with other bus associations on the issue. The state Education Department has made it mandatory to install Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in buses, along with GPRS systems and CCTVs, as part of the School Bus Policy. The policy, however, has been stuck between the transport and education departments for some time.
As per SBOA, if the state's mandates are implemented, an additional cost of R15,000 will be spent per bus. “We cannot continue to make additions to our buses without hiking the fees. If schools don't pay attention to our issues, we will stage protests.”
Apparently, the price of acquiring bus has gone up to R21 lakh from R11 lakh in 2011. Garg said, "The average monthly school bus fees varies between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000, depending on the school. But schools which have their own buses already charge Rs 3,000 for its services. So why should we suffer?”