If your child’s school bus passes through a toll booth everyday, be prepared to pay more bus fees from this December. The bus owners on Thursday decided to hike fees by Rs370 a month from December 1 for students travelling in buses that have to cross toll nakas .
The decision will affect 50 contract-run school buses in the city and 75 in Navi Mumbai, which cross toll booths every day. These include schools in Dahisar, Borivli, Juhu, Mulund and Navi Mumbai, among others across the state.
The school bus owners association (SBOA) announced that they took this decision as the government is not granting them exemption from toll tax, which they have been demanding since last year.
While Delhi has closed tolls for its motorists, the MSRDC officials recently announced that they cannot do the same in Mumbai. “We have already informed schools about the hike. This will be over and above other hikes,” said Anil Garg, president of SBOA.
He said a bus incurs an expense of Rs13,200 a month for paying toll -- which means each child should pay Rs528, assuming that 25 students travel in one bus.
“Our buses cross toll nakas at least eight times a day,” said Garg. “There are parents who send children to school far away from their house. So our buses have to cross Bandra-Worli sea link and other toll nakas.”
In April, the bus owners had hiked fees by 10% to pay the increased salaries of the staff and bear costs of increased value added tax (VAT) and sales tax on the purchase of new buses. “The cost of public transport has increased two to three times this year. Our hike is reasonable because it is only once in an academic year,” said Garg. “The toll charge will affect only some students.”
However, parents said the frequent hikes in the school bus fare have burnt a hole in their pocket. “The government needs to subsidise school bus travel,” said a parent from a school in Navi Mumbai. “With the fares increasing so often, it is a huge burden on us.”