Just when the dispute over implementation of the school bus safety policy seemed to have settled, bus operators said they were planning to hike fees by 20% to 30% in the next academic year to meet the costs of new safety requirements, insurance policies and increased fuel charges.
The School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) said the charges could go up by at least Rs 200 to Rs 300 a month, depe-nding on the school.
With school bus fees already ranging between Rs 700 and Rs 2,000, a hike will burn deeper holes in parents’ pockets
According to school bus operators, the hike is inevitable considering the recent rise in diesel prices, increase in premium for third-party insurance (to cover the victims of an accident) and remodelling the buses with safety measures such as CCTV cameras and grills on windows.
“Installation of a CCTV camera as per the recent government directives will cost Rs45,000. A Santacruz school installed the cameras recently and they were stolen three times,” said Anil Garg, president of the SBOA.
The bus operators said they would also be incurring additional costs such as salaries of women attendants and other safety measures required under the new school bus policy.
“While we will not take part in the strike starting from April 1, parents will have to bear the increased running costs of school buses,” said Anil Garg, president of the SBOA.
Many parents said they were upset over the proposal. “We are already burdened with high tuition fees and other school expenses,” said the parent of a school student from Nerul.