The proposed ban on the use of private vans for transportation of schoolchildren has evoked strong reaction from parents who do not want schools to discontinue the smaller vehicles.
Parents said the private vehicles are economical and drop children at the doorstep of their houses, reducing safety concerns. Instead of imposing a blanket ban on these vehicles, several parents want the government to find a solution in which neither the security of children is compromised nor their commute affected.
The Gurgaon Regional Transport Authority (RTA) has ordered a ban on the use of white buses and private vans to ferry children to school from April 1. The decision was taken after a recent incident in which a private school bus caught fire near Huda City Centre .
Parents also fear that schools will increase the transportation fee if they are forced to hire buses instead of using vans, which are more flexible and can access the narrow roads and streets.
“In my view, nothing should be banned completely, but safety measures should be appropriate. I have opted for bus facility and I’m satisfied with that. But, there are some mothers who opt for vans as bus stops are far from their place and in the afternoon, some mothers also have other children to take care at home,” Jhilmil Saxena, a parent, said.
Though parents like the flexibility offered by vans, they want drivers and conductors selected after a thorough screening. “The drivers should be professional and they must be trained so that they can handle emergencies,” Sanjee Singh of Sector 23 said.
However, several parents also supported the complete ban on private school vehicles.
“Ban on private vans is completely justified having seen the chaos and safety issues caused by such vehicles in Delhi and Bengaluru. I have seen drivers misbehaving with children and bad-mouthing parents. It should be made mandatory for schools to have sufficient school buses and designate appropriate bus stops with the consent of parents. If children have to cross roads, it should be the school’s duty to provide support staff to help them reach the other side till they are in class 10,” Vaneeta Agarwal, who recently moved to the city from Bengaluru , said.
Parents also want authorities to push schools to provide transport that is economical.
“There is a huge difference in charges of private vans and school buses, and as far as security is concerned, the schools hardly bother as students cross busy roads to catch the school buses from a common point that school decides according to their wish and convenience,” Payal Chauhan a physiotherapist said.
“The ban on private vans is justified as these are unsafe and it is the prerogative of the school to provide a safe mode of transport. Parents sometimes have to opt for private vehicles because schoolbus charges are very high. The authorities need to look into this issue,” Komal Gogia Chugh, another parent, said.
“I am against the use of vans but school transport is unaffordable. So, I think dropping children ourselves is the only way out. But, it is not possible everyday. We may be working or unwell or busy with some other important thing. So it’s good to have a carpool option for children in your neighbourhood,” Nidhi Garg, an entrepreneur, said.