Commuting to school is going to become less worrisome. The state cabinet on Thursday implemented a school bus policy which enforces a slew of safety measures on operators. To help them cope with the additional cost, taxes on these vehicles have been reduced.
However, autos will continue to ferry school-goers, as a proposal to ban them was turned down. But, they will have to ensure that seating capacity rules are not violated.
While announcing the policy, chief minister Ashok Chavan said it will come into force with immediate effect. “The safety of schoolchildren is our utmost priority. Contractors and drivers flouting rules will be liable for criminal charges being filed against them,” he said.
The new policy compels school bus contractors to recruit a driver with a minimum five years of experience, along with an attendant. Buses are required to have a list of students travelling in the vehicle, along with their blood groups, contact numbers, addresses, and the name of the stop. A speed governor has been made compulsory, along with a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
All school buses will now have to ply only with a separate school transport permit, and don yellow colour. “The rules ascertain the responsibility of the school administration, the bus contractor and the implementing authority to ensure the safety of students. The school principal is expected to review the system twice a year,” Chavan added.
However, the proposal of bringing down the life span of school buses has been rejected. The road life of these buses will be at par with normal ones, an official said.
The policy has contemplated the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Rules and Regulation 2010 to make the state the first in the country to introduce separate rules for school buses.