Parents will have to pay more for school buses from the next academic year.
Bus operators said they were planning to hike fees by 10% to pay increased salaries to staff and bear the costs of increased value added tax (VAT) and sales tax on purchase of new buses.
The School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) said the charges could go up by at least Rs 100 to Rs 200 a month, depending on the school. School bus fees already range between Rs 700 and Rs 2,000 a month.
According to the operators, the hike is inevitable considering that the railways, BEST buses, autos, taxis and even the Mumbai metro have increased their fares this year. “Cost of public transport has increased two to three times this year, we are only hiking fees once in the academic year,” said Anil Garg, president, SBOA.
“Salaries of drivers, cleaners and attendants have been increased by Rs 1, 000. That means, there is an additional expenditure of Rs 3,000 on every bus,” he added.
Also, the cost of new buses has increased by Rs 2 lakh, he said. “Under the school bus safety norms, we can’t use buses older than eight years, so we have to keep changing them,” said Garg.
Parents said they were upset over the proposal to hike fee. “We are already burdened with high tuition fees and other school expenses. The bus fee hike will put too much pressure on us,” said the parent of a student from Nerul.
School principals said they had not been informed by the association “But if they have decided, the school will find out if the hike is reasonable and required. The issue will then be moved to the PTA,” said Girija Mohan, principal, Chhatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School, Vile Parle.