Parents of school children in Delhi need to brace for another blow.
After the hike in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Metro feeder buses, the transport fee of your child is also set to go up.
The DTC has decided to hike the cost of the fare they charge from schools from Rs 25 per km to Rs 40 per km for buses ferrying students.
The move was expected to hit parents whose children attend the less expensive schools and rely on DTC buses as a safe and cheap transport option.
“We had to pay Rs 550 per month as bus fee. But this Saturday, our school informed us that the fee has been hiked to Rs 850. We still have to confirm this. But it is a big pressure for middle class families like ours,” said Anita Guha, a resident of West Delhi, whose son studies at Raisina Bengali School at Mandir Marg.
While many school principals said they were yet to hear about the hike, those who were aware of the increase in fares said the hike was substantial.
It was likely to once again hit parents who had just juggled their funds around to fit the increase in school tuition fee after the Sixth Pay Commission recommended increase in salaries of teachers.
“The DTC people have asked schools to increase the bus fee by Rs 2,000 per bus, per day. Which means that for a student availing the facility, the bus fare would go up at least by Rs 200 to Rs 300 per month,” said Annie Koshy, principal, St Mary’s School.
Koshy said this would effectively mean that many students would stop using the school bus and use other means of transport that were less expensive.
“Students would opt for vans that are cheaper, but unsafe and overcrowded. Also, unlike DTC buses, the drivers of these vehicles are not experienced and drop children wherever they want,” she said.
“I am not at all happy with the hike.”
Others felt that although the fare hike that comes after almost a decade might be justified, it was the sudden increase of 60 per cent that might hit individual budgets.
“It’s a steep hike. Parents would be affected again. The tuition fee was also hiked recently because of the 6th Pay Commission,” said Bharati Sharma, principal of Amity School (Saket).
“When you hike the fee in one go after many years, it is bound to be a big change.”
St Columba’s Principal L.D. Lobo said they were prepared for the hike, but admitted that the 60 per cent hike was substantial enough to merit discussions with parents.
“Compared to private operators, DTC buses are cheap. But from Rs 25 to Rs 40 is a substantial hike. So we will write to our parents,” he said.
Schools like Sanskriti, Springdales (Pusa Road) and Laxman Public School have their own fleet of buses.
Springdales (Pusa Road) principal Ameeta Mullah Wattal said her school was served entirely by their own fee and contract buses.
“But we have ensured that the bus fee is between Rs 500 and Rs 800. And we have not hiked our fee in two years. Some schools are also charging Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 as bus fee. And CNG buses are not as expensive as petrol buses. They can’t be allowed to rip off parents. Schools have to manage this,” said Wattal.