Sunday, October 24, 2004

Paving the roads to school with safety

Paving the roads to school with safety
The idea is to have dedi-cated BMTC buses for each school and later expand the project by scientifically combining schools.
Deccan Herald

Your child’s safe travel to school and back may have been a matter of worry for long. But the days of worrying about your child caught in the chaotic city traffic, at least in some areas, may end soon.

The ‘Safe Roads to School’ (SRTS) project, conceived by the Bangalore Agenda Task Force in association with the City Traffic Police, Education Department and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), may finally see the light of the day, after being put on the backburner for over a year.

The project is now likely to take off on a pilot basis with a private school in the city, BMTC officials said.

“We have put together a project proposal with the city’s Baldwin Girls School. The school will discuss it with its students and their parents and get back to us. If all goes well, we should be able to start the project within a month or two, at the most,” BMTC chief traffic manager G Prakash said. The project envisages exclusive BMTC buses to act as school-buses during the peak hours, to pick up school-going children from home, drop them to school, pick them up in the evenings and drop them back at home.

SRTS is expected to bring down traffic around schools to a large extent, as cars, two-wheelers and autos wouldn’t have to be parked around schools.

While the fact that BMTC buses have contributed to several fatal accidents may make one cynical, this project is designed to ensure that children are safe en route to school, said Mr Prakash.

“About 48 buses will be deployed by BMTC buses to make two trips a day, catering to over 2,600 schools. We have already discussed the idea with parents, and parents are ready to send their children, as they prefer buses to autos.

The school will have to post one attender in each bus, while we will post one lady conductor in each bus,” he said. Buses will be scheduled according to convenience of students — even bus-stops will be worked out based on this.

Though the buses will not wear the mandatory yellow colour of school buses, they will display banners when on SRTS duty, warning off other vehicles to maintain a safe distance.

Feasibility surveys have been conducted for 15 schools in the city initially. Parents’ meetings were also held to inform them of the project idea and implementation, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic, East) M A Saleem.

The ultimate idea is to expand the project to cover over 1,000 schools, by scientifically clubbing students of different schools to travel in one set of buses. For instance, students of two or three schools in the Richmond Circle area would be given one set of buses during the peak hour. Students of each school going towards Indiranagar would use, say, three buses, while students bound to Jayanagar would be allotted other buses.

“Of course, we cannot make it mandatory, because some parents would still prefer to drop their children at school. But the general thinking is, all students should travel by bus. If it does get accepted, we are willing to cover more schools. It would decongest much of the traffic around schools,” he said.

The project, first mooted in June 2003, has been put together by a committee set up by the Police Commissioner early this year.


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