Your space: Autorickshaws are risky, but only economic option, say Pune residents
Many autorickshaws ply as school transport vehicles stuffed with children beyond their seating capacity. Outgoing state government had assured the Bombay High Court that a special drive would be undertaken to stop three-wheelers from ferrying children to schools. Here is what our readers have to sayUpdated: Dec 08, 2019 16:28 IST
Government officials are taking decisions sitting in air conditioned offices in Mumbai. Each city has a different character but the officials are trying to apply rules applicable in Mumbai to the rest of Maharashtra. The transport lobby is also behind the decision of banning transport of students by three-wheelers. First, the government should provide data as to how many accidents occurred due to the use of three-wheelers. The issue of seating capacity can be discussed and both sides can find middle ground. We have given various presentations to the transport officers regarding our seating capacity, however, our views have not been considered yet. With the new government coming to power, we will appeal to the new chief minister to allow autorickshaw to ferry schoolchildren. Parents are also in favour of it as in slums and crowded areas, autorickshaw is the best option for transport.
Trust between rickshaw drivers and parents
I have been ferrying schoolchildren for many years now and parents and students trust us and share a good bond with us. All autorickshaw drivers won’t be able to purchase a school bus and some autorickshaws operate in crowded areas where taking a school bus is impossible. The issue of carrying capacity can be discussed, but in the end it is all economics. If a parent is willing to pay extra and accommodate his/her child in an autorickshaw, the driver will ply the children. The cost of living is increasing and autorickshaw drivers also need to look at other sources of revenue when the schools are closed. Another benefit of using autorickshaw for transport is that there is no issue of parking. It requires less space and after dropping kids, they can disperse any where.
School bus is safer option
I feel sad when I see kids sitting in an autorickshaw. Many times, school bags and tiffin bags can be seen outside the autorickshaw. Some kids are seen sitting on the laps of elder children. Children are stuffed in the vehicle like a commodity. Government needs to bring in restrictions on the seating capacity. Also, since autorickshaws are open from all sides, students are more exposed to pollution and hence, school bus is a better option. It is safe and has bus conductors in it. If parents are not able to afford the bus fees, the government should come up with some innovative benefits like giving subsidy to bus transporters or schools for bus transport.
Only rickshaws can ply in crowded areas
My children go to school in the old city area and it will be difficult for a school bus to navigate there. Also, I trust my autorickshaw driver as he has been serving us since many years. Stuffing the vehicle with children is an issue, but it is just a matter of 20 to 30 minutes, which students can easily enjoy. For us, there are some plus points and some weak points, but considering the practical situation for us, an autorickshaw is more suitable.
Rickshaw better as it provides doorstep service
We have often witnessed arguments and fights ensuing between students for seating allotment. Students would not have to face any problem when travelling in a school bus and there will also be enough space for putting school bags. However, the issue is that school bus operators do not operate in our residential area. They ask us to drop the children to the nearest stop, however, this is not possible because we have to go to work. The autorickshaw driver comes to our house entrance and hence, is beneficial.
School bus service is expensive
I would have preferred my children to travel to school via a school bus, but it is wishful thinking. There is a difference of at least Rs300 per month in both the means of transport. Rs300 per month matters a lot to us and hence, we prefer an autorickshaw. I would also wish to drop my children using my private vehicle, but due to financial issues, it is not possible. I have convinced my child that using an autorickshaw will help me learn how to adjust and accommodate others and share space with others.
Ban is welcome
It is a welcome move to ban three-wheelers for school transport. Bus transport is safe and comfortable. Ideally parents and school should aggressively follow it. School children are the future of our country and their health and safety is importance, hence a school bus is good way of transport for them.
Parents should not take risks
I don’t understand how parents take risk and send their innocent kids in crowded autorickshaws. The kids are seating like hens in an autorickshaw. Sometimes while walking. I see many autorickshaws overflowing with children. It is not a healthy atmosphere and I feel pity for kids. During my time, I used to walk to my school, but this is not possible in today’s world of traffic jams. Ideally, the kids should learn in nearby school where they can go easily by cycling or walking. But it is an outdated thought. Parents should send their children to school in a safe transport and if using an autorickshaw, there should not be more than four-five children in it.
Rickshaws are dangerous
Several autorickshaws are ferrying children to schools. Autorickshaws are overloaded and it is totally unsafe, bags are hanging and there is no seat to sit properly. Children suffer from neck and back pain. The high court decision must be followed. Several potholes can also prove to be dangerous in such autorickshaws. Parents should avoid sending children to school by autorickshaws.
Guidelines needed for school transport
First, there are guidelines for admission to kids within a minimum kilometre range. These are being flouted. Kids are travelling nearly ten to twelve kms away to a prestigious school. So, first this problem should be addressed in the initial stage. Tighten the admission procedures to ensure that kids travel minimum distances. Secondly, regulate fares of autorickshaws. Parents will not be forced to send many children in one vehicle to make the trip economically viable. Uniform fare card for specific distances throughout the city should be there. Thirdly, blanket bans do not work. Ensure safety with doors in autorickshaw when plying children to schools. Nothing should dangle out like bags, water bottles. Autos by themselves are not unsafe, they become hazardous due to crowding, bad road discipline and open structure. A policy needs to be devised to ensure safety.
Rickshaws need to follow rules
Parents of schoolchildren will be inconvenienced, if autorickshaws are banned from plying schoolchildren. Government has not been able to provide a reliable transport to the middle class citizens in Pune. The authorities should ensure that no autorickshaws carries students beyond capacity. There should be safety norms and strict observance of traffic rules. Enforcing discipline is a remedy, not the ban.
Rickshaws are only available option
Many a times school bus or contract bus facilities are not available in a particular area and so parents opt for autorickshaws as a mode of transport. But stuffing children in autorickshaws is very unfortunate and dangerous. Parents should limit the number of children to maximum four so that they can travel peacefully. Best option is if parents choose nearby schools and then, drop their children on their own, in the end strengthening their bond.
Maya Hemant Bhatkar