There’s always the bus as a safe route to school

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BUS_PASS_Bangalore, June 21;Autorickshaws and private vans packed so tight so as to give a tin of sardines a complex. Considering this is the way our children are being ferried to and from schools, it’s time to take a look at options available to ensure them a stress-free and safe commute.

The Safe Route to School programme — which involves encouraging the use of public transport — is among one such that started with much gusto in 2005 by the traffic police and in co-operation with the Transport Department to help provide schools with buses.

However, not everyone seems to have taken to the initiative as many parents still prefer to send their children in vehicles of their choice.

Too few takers

Out of the estimated 6,246 schools in Bangalore city and its outskirts, just 38 have employed the services of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), according to Transport Department officials.

Speaking to The Hindu, one said: “We are operating 287 buses for 45 educational institutions. Of these, 38 are schools and seven colleges.”

The department gives a concession of Re. 1 to schools and charges colleges Rs. 27 per km. Pushpak buses charges a flat rate of Rs. 29 per km for both schools and colleges. The official said there was increasing demand by institutions for the service and had recently agreed to provide the transport to two new schools as well.

“The range of services depends on the institution’s requirements. While some schools deploy two or three buses, others [charter] more than 20 or 30 buses.”

Police presence

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) M.A. Saleem also said the old restriction on parking within 200 metres of the school was not in effect anymore.

“It is a matter of children’s safety. They need not walk the distance. Instead, there are police constables, along with a police platoon, manning the area around the school to control the congestion and help students. Children are the most vulnerable section of society and their safety is a matter of utmost importance,” Mr. Saleem added.

The Safe Route to School was introduced to ensure children’s safety during the commute during peak morning hours.

With so much of private transport on the road, ferrying them to school and adults to their workplaces, public transport was not in the reckoning. This is why the police and the Transport Department came together with a solution to safeguard the youngsters.

Mr. Saleem said various other programmes were being undertaken as part of the initiative. The School Association for Road Safety has also been conducting safety awareness programme for schoolchildren in the Traffic Park on St. Marks Road.

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