Private buses at Sakchi terminus in Jamshedpur on Monday. (Bhola Prasad)
Though autos bursting with students turn turtle with alarming frequency, middle class parents fighting budget blues moan the lack of safe yet affordable commute options for their wards.
But now, matters might change in Jamshedpur. The city’s mini bus association on Monday approached East Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) Amitabh Kaushal and district transport officer (DTO) George Kumar with a written proposal to ferry students at rates cheaper than autos.
“In view of rising mishaps due to overloaded autos and vans, we have discussed the matter among association members and can offer bus service to students at competitive rates. We will charge around 20 per cent less than existing school vans,” said Sanjay Pandey, general secretary of Shikshit Berozgar Mini Bus Association, the umbrella outfit of some 125 private bus operators plying on 14 routes across the city.
Mini buses, each with a seating capacity of 30-35 persons, carry over a lakh passengers on a given day.
The association has claimed it has enough buses to cater to the 55-odd private schools in the city.
Elaborating how the system could work, Pandey said: “We will have designated stops at localities for schoolchildren to board. Each vehicle will have staff to help board the children, especially toddlers, on the roster. No student will have to stand inside the bus.”
On the comparative rates, Pandey gave an example.
“An auto charges Rs 700 a month per student from, say, Baridih to Northern Town. We will charge 20 per cent less,” he said.
Buses will not charge parents directly. Instead, parents will have to deposit the money to school management, which, in turn will hand over the amount to the bus authorities.
DTO Kumar welcomed the move and said they would hold a meeting in this connection with schools. “We wrote to private schools to arrange their transport as has been the practice in Ranchi and Dhanbad. District superintendent of education Abhay Shanker will call a meeting of school representatives on this matter. But we hope schools accept the proposal of the private bus operators,” he said.
DSP (traffic) R.M Sinha said they had already asked SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone) clubs of respective schools to push for safe commuting. Asked for this reaction to the proposal of the mini bus association, he said: “It is a good move. We hope schools take benefit of it.”
Two schoolgirls were injured when their overloaded auto-rickshaw turned turtle after being hit by another three-wheeler near G-Town grounds in Bistupur on September 7. Seven students were injured when an auto-rickshaw overturned near Mango Bridge on August 29.
Can affordable mini buses for schoolkids be replicated in Ranchi, Dhanbad?