Sunday, June 26, 2005

No takers for ‘Safe Way to School’ project

No takers for ‘Safe Way to School’ project
Deccan Herald
About 200 metres around schools will be ‘No Stoppage Zones’; children should be provided with transport by managements for which they can use BMTC buses.


Despite the nobility of purpose, the publicity campaigns of the traffic police, the generosity of BMTC and the coercive tactics of the Government, the ‘Safe Way to School’ project refuses to take off in the city.

The deadline of the project, under which all schools in Bangalore will be offered BMTC bus service at concessional rates for ferrying students, was extended from June 1 to July 1 to create public consensus. With only four days before D-Day, this objective is far from being realised. Only ten schools have agreed to take BMTC buses in the last 25 days, and that too in small numbers. While five schools require only one bus, others need two and three buses. The highest order of seven buses was placed by Brigade School.

The final count reveals that only 39 out of 500-odd private schools in the city have availed of the BMTC service. Of the schools that were already using BMTC buses, the demand has risen marginally, from 165 to 174 buses. Only seven of the 29 schools have asked for additional buses.

While Traffic Department officials are still trying to woo principals and parents into accepting the project, holding frequent parent-teacher meetings with them, the BMTC seems to be steadily losing hope. According to senior BMTC sources, the culprits may be the schools themselves. “The schools stand to gain by not opting for BMTC buses. The profit which they share with private transport contractors runs into lakhs. Then why will they go in for a BMTC service which we are offering for Rs 13 per kilometre?” asks one official. “We have even offered to compensate schools if they feel they are losing money. What more can we do?” he rued.

As for the much-discussed safety aspect of travelling in BMTC buses, where many parents feared that such buses are accident-prone, the official responds,“BMTC has an excellent track record. The schools which are using our service are satisfied and even asking for more buses.”

Meanwhile, the traffic department is looking at other ways of making people use the public transport, the bus.“No stoppage zones around 200 metres of the schools will be introduced so that people use the bus service. We are not concerned whether they are BMTC or private buses,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-East) M A Saleem.

The BMTC is now looking at government schools to offer their service. Hitherto, monthly passes were being given to government school students, but now the BMTC would rather give their buses on hire. “There is an overload on our buses during school opening and closing time, as students and office-goers crowd at the same time. If we provide buses to these schools, this load can be channelised,” says BMTC Managing Director Upendra Tripathi. “The matter is under discussion and it will be implemented within a few months,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bangalore City Police Commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh has said that Private vehicles will not be allowed to drop off students within 200 metres of 16 schools in the city from July 1. The measure is aimed at easing the congestion on the roads caused because of cars and other vehicles that mill around entrances of schools.

All ICSE, CBSE and state syllabus English medium schools will have to start at 8.30 or before from this academic year. And it is mandatory for the school managements to provide transport facilities to their students. The commissioner said that several people had raised objection to the proposal. However, he averred that public convenience would not be compromised. There is also “no question of status. We go by the public convenience”

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