Chandigarh, May 28:- Students of model senior secondary schools boarding administration-run buses, especially arranged for them, every morning to reach their house of learning, and alighting from them in the afternoon to reach home, sparing the short-of-time parents the hassle of the daily drop-and-pick-grind. If all goes as planned by the UT Administration, Chandigarh seems set to witness this scenario once the schools reopen after the summer break. And City Beautiful will be the first in the country to do so. The Chandigarh Administration is fast-tracking the move to introduce state bus service for government school students. A proposal, outlining broad contours of the proposed bus service christened “Micro School Escort”, has already been sent by The State Transport Authority (STA) to the Home Secretary for approval which is expected shortly.
Disclosing this here today, Ms Vandana Disodia, Secretary, STA, said, “I have sent the proposal to the Home Secretary. Once okayed, the service would hopefully be launched some time in July when the schools reopen after the summer vacation. We had sent letters to 19 government model senior secondary schools all over Chandigarh, wanting them to make their students exercise the option. Some schools have responded with a large number of students opting for the bus service while lists from others are awaited”, she added.
The schools that have responded along with the number of students opting for the service are: GMSSS Sector 47-D—251; GMSSS, Sector 46 D—86; GMSSS, Sector 21–268; GMSSS, Sector 23-A—182; GMSSS, Sector 16—115; and MHC Manimajra—36; GMSSS, Sector 32—92; GMSSS, Sector 35—250; and GMSSS, Sector 10—80. The bus service will cover the tricity of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali on the pattern of the auto service for which an agreement has already been signed with the Punjab Government. The Haryana Government too plans to toe the dotted line.
Once the Home Department gives the nod, the STA would call expression of interest from willing parties for running the bus services; these can be an individual or a private bus company. After due diligence, these will be short listed and modalities worked out. An agreement will be signed between the STA, principals of schools and bus operators, short listed by the Chandigarh Administration and routes finalized.
Ms Disodia stated that the fare structure would be worked out after a meeting with operators. Private schools are presently charging about Rs 500 as bus fare from each student per month. “Since it is a facilitation scheme and not a revenue generation exercise, we do not want to put extra burden on the pockets of parents. Though yet to be fixed, the fare for the bus service will be nominal and less than what is being charged by private bus operators,” she said. The STA will get only annual permit fee from the buses and the fare will go to the operators.
The 35-seater bus will be able to accommodate up to 50-52 students. The STA will monitor the scheme from time to time. “Slowly and steadily, we will extend the service to all government schools in the city,” said Ms Vandana. She felt that it would help check illegal operation of buses, overloading by autos and, more importantly, cut down on the use of private vehicles by people to drop children at school. It would be the best means of transport in respect of safety and security of children, she remarked.