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NOT ONLY are private school buses a matter of concern regarding the safety of school students, but government buses of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU), deployed specially to ferry schoolchildren, are no different either. While the State Transport Authority (STA) has been issuing challans against overloaded school buses, it has failed to take note of the CTU buses that double up as school buses in the morning and afternoon as students are literally packed like sardines.
Even the 24-seater mini CTU bus had more than 50 students in each of the six buses as found by Chandigarh Newsline on Wednesday. With no space to sit, even the entry and exit doors of these buses waiting to pick up students outside Government School, Sector 18, could not be closed as students jostled to get a foothold on the vehicle.
A senior STA official said they could not deploy additional buses and at the same time, cannot refuse a student from getting on to a CTU bus. “Sometimes, we tell them that the bus is full to its capacity, but they say they can manage by standing as they have no other means of transport to go home. But, we will make sure that there is no overloading from tomorrow,” he added.
As many as 40 such CTU buses turn into special school buses. It was started in 2013 and this facility is availed of only by government school students and not by those studying in private schools. Nearly 5,000 students avail of the facility and 800 have regular monthly passes, which comes for a nominal fee of Rs 100 each.
“In fact, private schools provide their own transport and those students prefer not to travel in this rush of government school students on these buses. So, parents do not opt for the CTU buses,” said a woman attendant on one of the CTU buses outside the school at Sector 18.
These CTU buses make 20 round trips and no common commuter can avail of this facility when the buses are on their way to drop students at bus stops. There are around 100 such stops as well as six buses especially for girls with a woman conductor on each bus along with the driver.
Principals of private schools felt that these buses lack security which every parent wants for his child. “The reason why private school students don’t prefer these buses is because of the crowd and lack of security. In your school’s bus, you have kids of your own school. Moreover, there are CCTVs, GPRS, speed governors and drivers, contractors are of the school itself. A parent can immediately call up the coordinator to know if the child is running late. I think even the authorities should adhere to the same rules that private schools follow because it is for the safety of students, even if they are of government schools,” said Kavita Das, Principal of St Johns High School at Sector 26.