With school bus operators planning to hike fees by 20-30% in the next academic year, the financial burden of parents is bound to increase.
The school bus owners had increased the fees by 15% last year. With the new hike, parents may have to pay Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 extra from this year.
While most parents aren’t too pleased with the proposal, they said they would pay the extra amount if it meant that the buses would be fitted with the safety equipment.
“We are willing to pay extra for our children’s safety,” said Harpreet Kaur Kooner, a Versova resident and parent of two school-going children. “I will pay more than what I do if it assures better service and functionality of buses.”
There are concerns if the extra money would actually be used for the right purpose.
“There should be transparency in the way the extra money is being spent. We are struggling to give the best education to our kids. So, we will have a problem if we find out that we are paying extra for something which is not needed,” said a parent from Thane.
Some parents said the fee hike was unjustified. “I am worried about paying more for bus services as we are already burdened with tuition fees and other school expenses,” said the parent of a school student from Nerul.
The Parents Teachers Association United Forum felt that school buses should implement the safety measures properly to justify the hike. “Bus owners should not hold parents to ransom. They should take them into confidence and consult them before imposing a fee hike on them. We expect bus operators to follow all the safety norms prescribed by the transport authorities,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the forum.
School buses to run during AIMTC strike from April 1
The School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) has decided not to participate in the indefinite strike called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) from April 1, to protest against the rise in fuel prices and hike in third-party insurance premiums. The bus owners said they did not want to cause inconvenience to students during their final exams. “After a meeting with representatives of each city, we decided that we will not join the strike as students will be appearing for their school exams in the first week of April,” said Anil Garg, president, SBOA. “If parents do not oppose the fuel hike, why should we bother?” he asked.