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School bus owners harp over need for speed

School officials and parents may be more than happy with the government’s decision for compulsory installation of speed governors in school buses, but members of the School Bus Owners Association claim that the units have disadvantages.


Safety matters: A bus belonging to Abhishek Vidyalayam, which rammed into a parked bus at the corner of Krishna Nagar early this month, while it had students aboard. Pic/Navnath Kaple

Though the association supports the government’s decision for installation of these units, they are not happy with the 40 kmph speed limit that comes with the decision, and demand they be allowed the same as the government is permitting for BEST buses.

One of the two disadvantages they claim these units pose is that when these vehicles ply on highways, the drivers will be unable to keep to the specified speed limits on these routes. Also, if drivers exceed the specified speed limit, the governors are designed to disable the engine leading to the vehicles stalling on the highways.

While the deadline for installing speed governors in other heavy vehicles like trucks, dumpers and tempos have been deferred till October 31, school bus owners claim they have also been given the same deadline. The government has maintained that the speed limit for school buses should be 40 kmph, but the school bus owners association is pushing for above 50 kmph.

Association Chairman Anil Garg, said, “We want the government to give us permission to have a similar speed limit as they have allowed for BEST buses.”

Safer for kids
Raj Aloni, headmistress of Ramsheth Thakur Public School, Kharghar, said, “There are only advantages if a fixed speed is set for school buses, because drivers will not be able to exceed the stipulated speed limit even if they accelerate. All three buses from our school have governors.”

M P Sharma, director of G D Somani School echoed the sentiment and said that speed governors have already been fitted in 21 buses from the school.

Jogeshwari resident Bhaskar Raut, whose son died in a school bus accident said that the decision is a welcome one. “Speed governors will help to curb accidents and deter bus drivers from taking students on high-speed drives. We don’t mind our kids reaching school or home late, but we’d rather not risk their lives by allowing them to be driven around at high speeds,” Raut said.

Jayant Jain, president of All India Federation of PTA, said that drivers of school buses have been observed clocking 70 to 80 kmph, which is very unsettling.

Secretary of School Bus Owners Association Deepak Naik, who runs 20 school buses between Bandra to Malad, said that the issue is not about installing speed governors.

“We have got a three-month extension and can either approach the court or the government’s technical department to seek some changes. We are not against installing governors, but the 40 kmph speed limit makes it impossible to drive on the roads. How will students reach school if the driver tries to exceed the stipulated speed and the vehicle shuts down mid-way?” Naik asked.

How the units function
There are primarily two types of speed governors, of which one is Fuel Control Type of SLD. The fuel control type speed limiter device reduces fuel supply to the engine momentarily, when driving speed exceeds the specified speed limit. The other is Accelerator Control SLD. The accelerator control speed limiter device operates on the accelerator of the vehicle, which will be disabled when a vehicle fitted with the device exceeds the specified speed limit.  

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