Vehicles must have a minimum of 12 seats to ferry schoolchildren in Maharasthra
Earlier, vehicles regardless of their seating capacity were registered as ‘school buses’.mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2018 11:30 IST
To ensure the safety of children, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) has allowed smaller vehicles (vans) with seating capacity of up to 12 to be used to ferry schoolchildren. Earlier, vehicles regardless of their seating capacity were registered as ‘school buses’.
The decision was taken in a recent MMRTA meeting chaired by transport secretory Manoj Saunik under the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (School Bus) Rules 2011.
The Union ministry of road transport and highways amended the Central Motor Vehicles Act on September 8, 2016 and defined vehicles that can ferry schoolchildren.
The new definition read, “School buses are vehicles that have a seating capacity of 13 passengers or more, excluding the driver. The buses must be designed specially for transporting children to and from schools.” Since the Central amendment, several RTOs have stopped registration of vehicles as school buses that don’t meet the criterion.
An RTO official said the issue came up for discussion in a recent meeting of the Mumbai District School Bus Committee, where a social activist had raised this issue. Therefore, the committee had sought guidelines from the MMRTA.
In Maharashtra, school vans have been registered under the school bus category since 2011, after the state government introduced a new school bus policy and rules for the safe transportation of children to and from school.
More than 23,000 vehicles were registered to carry schoolchildren, of them 6,000 were vans till 2017.
Another RTO official said several parents prefer to send their wards to kids in the school in vans instead of buses.
“The school vans are cheaper than bigger buses, and can drop kids closer to home and easily negotiate congested roads,” he said, adding that even the monthly charge for vans is less than the that of school bus.