|Children take a pool car to school on Wednesday morning. Picture by Amit Datta
Six days after nine-year-old Kaustav Bhattacharya died when the car poor vehicle in which he was going to South Point School rammed into a bus, the government has rolled out a nine-point guideline to rein in cars that ferry kids to school.
The road rules were announced after a meeting between representatives of the pool car association and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.
“We have asked them to apply for contract carriage permits by August 15. Vehicles without a permit and found flouting the guidelines will be impounded,” said Chakraborty.
Transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury stressed that to ensure proper enforcement of the guidelines, officials from the public vehicles department (PVD) will continue the crackdown on pool cars.
Metro explores the guideline that takes a cue from the Supreme Court ruling on school transport...
• Guideline: There must be an appropriate permit as a passenger transport vehicle issued by competent authority.
• Goal: Stop people from registering vehicles as private cars but putting them to commercial use.
• Gap: This will require strict surveillance. PVD and transport department track record do not inspire confidence.
• Guideline: On School Duty must be displayed permanently and prominently at the back and front of every vehicle carrying schoolchildren.
• Goal: Easy identification of pool cars and use restricted to ferrying kids to and from school.
• Gap: The poster is hardly a safeguard in a city full of cars with ‘tags’.
• Guideline: No such vehicle shall carry children in excess of its seating capacity. No child should be allowed to sit on the lap of others.
• Goal: The car is not crammed with children, reducing the risk of injury.
• Gap: Who counts which pool car is carrying how many kids' Does restriction reduce financial viability for pool car owners' After all, they provide attractive fares to parents by raising the passenger count.
• Guideline: There must be a first-aid box and drinking water in the vehicle.
• Goal: To make the journey comfortable and safe.
• Gap: Who ensures quality drinking water and first-aid expertise of the driver'
• Guideline: Seatbelts, wherever applicable, must be fastened properly.
• Goal: Minimise injuries.
• Gap: How many people fasten seatbelts in taxis or even private cars'
• Guideline: School name and number must be displayed.
• Goal: The school can be contacted in an emergency.
• Gap: What happens if a pool car is carrying kids to three different schools'
• Guideline: Driver must have at least five years of experience behind the wheel of such a vehicle and must not have any record of previous traffic offences.
• Goal: Safety measure.
• Gap: Who will verify track record of driver' Will hiring such an experienced driver be feasible for pool car owners'
•Guideline: Pool car owner must intimate local thana and a senior police officer about details of the driver and particulars of the vehicle.
• Goal: Police can maintain pool car records.
• Gap: It’s like informing the thana about your domestic help. Who will enforce it'
• Guideline: In case of a bus, there must be an escort from school, preferably a teacher.
• Goal: Better management of kids.
• Goal: Who chooses the escort' Who pays for the seat being occupied by the escort'
(What do you, the parent, feel about these guidelines' Tell [email protected])