Citing an increase in diesel prices, school-bus operators in the tricity have decided to hike transportation charges by `130 a month with effect from April 1. The hike is going to be across the board.
The move is set to burn a hole in the pockets of parents, as schools are also likely to announce a 10-15% increase in school fee for the next academic session.
HS Mamik, president of Chandigarh Independent School Association, described the announcement as genuine, saying that there had been a steep increase in diesel prices in the past year. "We will meet bus operators shortly, following which we'll take the final call," he said.
However, Chandigarh School Bus Operator Welfare Association, which represents school bus operators in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar, has said the hike was imminent. Association president Manjeet Singh said the decision was taken in their general body meeting on Tuesday.
He said bus operators were forced to increase the charges as the diesel prices had increased by `8 a litre in the 2013-14 fiscal. He also cited the rise in lubricant prices, spare parts, and salaries of workers.
Association secretary Satinder Singh said five schools in the tricity had agreed to a `50 increase in October 2013. "For them, the increase would be `80," he said.
A parent, Manish Sharma, said there seemed to be no end to their woes: "After the hike in school fee, the hike in schoolbus fare has multiplied financial pressure on us."
At present, school bus charges vary from `700 to `1,000, depending upon the distance covered by the bus. For example, bus operators charge `700 to `800 for dropping a child within Chandigarh, but the price varies between `900 and `1,000 for inter-city movement, say from Panchkula to Chandigarh.
"Parents will now to pay between `800 and `1,100," said Satinder Singh, secretary of Chandigarh School Bus Operator Welfare Association. Last year too, bus operators had increased charges by 15%.
FIGURES FOR THOUGHT
1,000 buses ply in tricity
30,000 students travel on school buses