Saturday, February 26, 2005

BMTC’s ‘safe route’ faces roadblocks

BMTC’s ‘safe route’ faces roadblocks

After a grand launch, the BMTC has temporarily withdrawn the service but is set to re-introduce it in June.

Deccan Herald

On February 10, the Bangalore Traffic Police launched its most ambitious project - Safe Route to School - at Baldwin Girls High School located on the busy Richmond Road. Six BMTC buses were pressed into service to ferry over 300 students to different parts of the City. A fortnight later, there are no buses standing outside the school at closing time. The security guard claims ignorance, and parents, who have come from far-off places like Banaswadi and BTM Layout to pick up their wards, are clueless about such a service.

Back in June

As it turns out, the Bangalore Traffic Police has withdrawn the BMTC service “temporarily” to the school following a lukewarm response from the students and parents. The service will be reintroduced in June, at the beginning of the new academic year. More schools will be targetted under the project, says DCP (East- traffic) M A Saleem. “Most students are now travelling by private buses under contract basis. But these contracts will end in March at the close of the academic year. We will take over when the new session begins, and we are certain of a good response,” adds Mr Saleem.

Presently, the BMTC has deployed 230 buses that caters to 34 schools. But under the Safe Route to School project, it is willing to offer more buses based on the needs of each school. The objective, according to BMTC Managing Director Upendra Tripathi, is not only to ensure safety of students, but also to decongest the roads.

However, not many parents are keen to take up the offer. Chitra, parent of a Baldwin School student, dismisses the whole project as hype. “I read about it in the newspapers, but when I went to the school administration to find out the details, they didn’t know anything. As information is not being channelised properly, it fails to help parents like us who have to travel from distant places,” she rues. Sricharan, another parent, believes that this BMTC project will bring relief only to the select few who stay close to pick-up points. “I would rather choose a private vehicle which offers door-to-door service,” says Sricharan, a resident of BTM Layout.

Mixed opinions

As for the issue of safety, the opinions are mixed. Following an accident of a BMTC bus ferrying school students of Bishop Cotton Girls School on Thursday, Parveen, mother of a Class I student of Baldwin School, accuses the BMTC bus drivers of rash driving and lack of accountability. “I can never send my children in these buses,” she says. Contradicts Bhubhaneshwari, another parent: “Children are safer in heavy vehicles than a two-wheeler. If those students were on a two-wheeler, the accident would certainly have turned fatal.”

As for the students, bus service would only mean longer hours. “Those who stay far will be picked up first and dropped last by these buses. This would be a waste of time,” points out Abhishek of Stracey Memorial School.

Schools can decide the number of BMTC buses required
Schools will chart the bus route
Schools will mark the pick-up and drop points
BMTC will display the name of the school on its board


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