Next month on, get ready to pay more for your child's school bus fee. The School Bus Owners' Association has decided to increase school bus fees stating that the new safety rules for buses will result in increased expenditures for bus operators.
The new rules, finalised by the transport department, requires all school buses to have two fire extinguishers, a lady attendant, a red and yellow strip on the bus, and speed governors, among other things.
"Our costs have gone up by almost 40% with all these requirements," said Anil Garg, president of the association.
"At most, the hike will be by Rs 200. We have already started collecting the payment from schools."
Bus owners controlling around 3,000 school buses across the city are members of the association.
Garg brushed aside potential complaints on the hike from parents, who are already agitated by routine school fee hikes.
"When do parents not object? They should try and understand the situation," said Garg.
However, Indrani Malkani, a member of the government-appointed committee that formulated Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (Regulations for School Buses) Rules, 2011, said there was no justification for the hike.
"It doesn't cost a huge amount of money at all to implement the safety rules," said Malkani.
"How can they hold children and parents to ransom like this?"
She added that diesel prices had not yet gone up and that school buses were in any case entitled to "huge tax benefits".
Parents have resigned themselves to the situation.
"It is inevitable," said Rupa Gaur, parent of a Class 8 student at Delhi Public School in Nerul.
"We understand that when petrol prices go up there will be some increase, but it should be within reasonable limits," she added.