Soon, all schools in the state will need to follow a State School Bus policy, which will hopefully make school buses much safer than they currently are.
The rules, which were put together by Transport Commissioner Deepak Kapoor at a school bus committee meeting on Tuesday, will come out as a notification by the end of January, and will need to be implemented by May 31, 2010, in the new academic year.
As reported by Hindustan Times on Tuesday, the policy will make it mandatory for bus contractors to have special permits and experienced drivers. Buses will have to be painted yellow or have yellow bands, cannot be over eight years old, must carry a list of students in it, with their blood groups, and must have speed governors that restrict their speed to 40-50 kph, among other things.
“Every city will have different needs, which will be taken care of by the respective RTO. We will spell out how schools should go about this, and involve the school education department, which has an important role in this,” said Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.
The schools, said Vikhe Patil, will need to appoint bus contractors through a tender process. The transport department is speaking to bus manufacturers to implement modifications like safety doors, belt locks and storage space.
The need for a new policy gained momentum after several bus accidents last year resulted in children dying. It has originated from the pilot model school bus system, which was designed in Mumbai in 2002, to use software that classifies students based on their addresses and chalks out an efficient route ensuring minimum travel time.
That system has been implemented in four schools – Cathedral, J B Petit, Bombay International School and Bombay Scottish – over the last seven years. It is now set to take off in Mumbai’s Abhabai Petit, and Campion schools by April 2010.
“We devised the system in Mumbai to deal with road congestion, since the system bans the use of private transport coming to schools,” said activist Indrani Malkani, a committee member who designed the system along with the traffic police.
Arundhati Chavan, president, Parents Teachers Association (PTA), and a committee member, said: “ It’s encouraging for both parents and teachers that this is going forward. All the stakeholders — schools, parents, contractors and the government — will now have to work together.”