Starting school buses in Mumbai won’t be easy, say operators
School bus owners in the city have raised several concerns about restarting services even if schools are allowed to start their operations from January 2021.
On Monday, the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) said while some schools in the city are gearing up to open from January if the government grants them permission to start Classes 9 and 10, bus owners are going to find it hard to start operations. Since school buses are not plying for nine months now, operators said they would have to bear a lot of losses before restarting operations.
“Even if schools reopen, there will be very few students. Fuel costs have already increased in the past few months and the costs of sanitising the buses will also be high,” said Anil Garg, president of SBOA. Garg said even when the operations start, the staff will have to be paid higher remuneration as most staffers have been unemployed for several months.
Bus operators further said the state government has not given any clarity on restarting school buses. “There is no standard operating procedure (SOP) in place for buses even as many of us have requested the government to come up with one,” added Garg.
There are nearly 50,000 school buses and around 1.5 lakh bus staffers in the city.
While schools in several parts of the state reopened on November 23, those in cities such as Mumbai and Pune are yet to reopen as local authorities have still not permitted the reopening. Principal of a suburban school said, “Even if we announce physical reopening, a large number of parents will still prefer the online mode. And we are doubtful about how many students would want to take the bus.”