If your child’s school bus passes through a toll booth every day, be prepared to pay more fees from the coming academic year.
After repeated appeals to higher authorities to exempt school buses from paying toll went unheard, bus operators decided to charge Rs 300 more from students travelling in buses which have to cross toll nakas to reach their destination.
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 hike will be effective from June, announced the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) on Tuesday. “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 Rs 13,200 a month for paying toll -- which means each child should pay Rs 528, 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.”
Garg said that they were forced to take this step as the government was not ready to grant toll exemption to school buses. “We have written letters to the chief minister and revenue minister but have not got received any response from them,” said Garg. “The government should at least give concessions to school buses.”
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 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.”
How the hike was calculated:
Each bus takes eight trips through toll nakas every day
Buses have to pay Rs 75 for each trip. They incur an expenditure of Rs 600 a day
On an average, buses run 22 days a month. This means an expense of Rs 13,200 every month
Though the expenditure has been worked out to be Rs528 per student, bus owners said they have decided to charge only Rs 300
Owners demand: The school bus owners had written to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and revenue minister Eknath Khadse to exempt school buses from paying toll. But they have not received any response
Hikes in the past:
School bus owners had also hiked charges by 10% in March to pay increased salaries to bus staff and bear the costs of increased value added tax (VAT) and sales tax on purchase of new buses.