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Send kids in school bus, not auto

Making travel by school buses mandatory is one of the provisions of the new school bus policy that was finalised on Friday by State Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

mumbai Updated: Jun 05, 2010 00:59 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

If your children are travelling to school in autorickshaws, you will have to get them to travel by the school bus in the next one year.

Making travel by school buses mandatory is one of the provisions of the new school bus policy that was finalised on Friday by State Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

Vikhe Patil said that children going to school crammed in autorickshaws was a matter of concern.

“But in some areas, there is no option. So, we have set a timeline for the phasing out: One year in areas, such as Mumbai, where there is a municipal corporation, two years for council areas and three years in other areas in the state,” he said.

The state government has given all schools time till December to implement the school bus policy.

Under the policy, which will come into effect from this academic year, all school buses must have trained drivers and woman attendants, install safety grilles, carry a list of students and their blood groups and run at a speed limit of 40 kmph-50 kmph.

The policy also makes mandatory for special bus permits and concessions for schools to have their own bus facility instead of depending on contractors.

These permits will be given to buses that will make changes in the vehicles, such as running only on Compressed Natural Gas, providing safety doors, belt locks and storage space.

“These provisions will be part of the school bus policy to be presented in the Cabinet by next week. It will be made applicable from the current academic year,” said Vikhe Patil.

This first-of-its-kind policy has been put into place because of the lack of safety measures and the irresponsible behaviour of school bus contractors and drivers, which led to several accidents in 2009.

The school bus policy has originated from the pilot ‘model school bus system’ designed in 2002.

The system, designed by activist Indrani Malkani and the traffic department for Mumbai, uses a software to classify students based on their addresses and chalks out an efficient route ensuring minimum travel time.

The system is being implemented in four schools — Cathedral, JB Petit, Bombay International School and Bombay Scottish — for the last seven years.