Arrange for your own car pool along with parents of other children, check whether the private transport operator has a licence to ferry kids, carry out random checks to see if your child is being dropped off at the right place — these are some of the advice schools are doling out to parents of students.
The death of a kindergarten student, who was knocked down by the chartered bus she got off from near Park Circus on Tuesday, has prompted schools to caution parents about the perils of private pool cars and buses, many of which are unlicensed and flout rules at will.
Schools are unanimous in the opinion that parents should be more responsible in choosing pool car services.
St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School, where five-year-old Kasira Yusuf studied, has decided to “issue a circular to all parents” reminding them that the school offers a bus service and discouraging them from using unauthorised pool cars and buses for their children.
“The circular would caution them against the use of private services and the parents will have to acknowledge receipt of the circular,” said Carolyn Lionel, the teacher-in-charge of the school. “We will discourage them from using these privately run vehicles and if they still choose to, it is because of their convenience.”
The school is also planning to conduct a training session for the drivers of the 14 buses in its fleet.
The decision to issue the circular was taken after a meeting of the teacher-in-charge and the heads of the junior and senior sections of the school on Wednesday.
The circular, which will also be put up on the school gates, will warn parents against dropping off their children to school on bikes without helmets. “There are parents who drop their children to school, two or three of them, none of them wearing a helmet,” said a teacher.
St. James’ School, too, has decided to put up a notice on the school gate, declaring “the school does not take any responsibility of transportation”. The school does not have its own buses.
“The privately run vehicles are not under our jurisdiction, but we keep telling parents to run their own pool car where parents can take turns to drop and pick their children from school,” said Terence Ireland, the principal of St. James’ School.
The Mahadevi Birla World Academy website will soon carry a word of caution for parents, advising them to run a proper check of the transport provider.
“Parents need to check the credibility of the transport provider and make sure they have all their contact details. We are telling them to make random checks on the routes to see where the car pool drops the kids, ” said principal Anjana Saha.
Drivers of pool cars and buses often drop the children several metres away from the school to avoid traffic snarls.
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has been issuing notices at regular intervals to remind parents that “transportation is their responsibility”.
Modern High School for Girls and the Apeejay schools also keep telling parents to check the credentials of the pool car.
Schools allege that parents often mislead the authorities to ensure admission for their children.
“Some parents mislead the schools. One of the criteria for admission is that they have to live within a 5km radius and so they give wrong addresses. In case of an accident, we find that no one lives at that particular address,” said a principal of a north Calcutta school.
A couple of years ago, a pool car carrying students of a Salt Lake school met with an accident and it took the school a long time to contact the parents because the address provided was incorrect.
Transport minister Madan Mitra has promised a crackdown on illegal pool car operators but officials in his department are sceptical because the enforcement wing rarely targets vehicles carrying schoolchildren, be it cars or buses. Officers at Lalbazar, on the other hand, claim that they lack the manpower to carry out such exercises.
The government had asked owners of unlicensed pool vehicles to get registered by September 7, but only a few applied.
• Illegal pool cars and buses in city: 40,000
• Children dependent on pool cars/buses: 50,000
What schools are doing:
St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School
• Circular to caution parents against use of unauthorised modes of transport
• Directive to parents not to drop children in bikes without wearing helmets
Mahadevi Birla World Academy
• Notice on website for parents to check credentials of pool cars and run random checks
St. James’ School
• Notice on school gate saying transport is the parents’ responsibility