RTOs serve ultimatum, defiant schools may move court

Regional transport offices (RTOs), through a series of workshops, have asked schools to sign agreements with bus operators at the earliest, or face action.

Defiant schools have threatened to move court.

State transport commissioner V N More, said, "We have been appealing to schools for a long time to bring bus operators under agreement. However, schools have been refusing. If they do not sign agreements/ contracts, we will hold them responsible for untoward incidents involving school buses."

However, most schools said it was wrong on the part of RTOs to force implementation of "illogical" rules.

"We know our responsibility well and we ensure safety of our students all the time. RTOs cannot force us to implement certain norms. We will move court," said the principal of a school in south Mumbai.

Schools feel as soon as they sign agreements with bus operators they will become easy targets for transport authorities. The headmistress of a school in Bandra said, "Why are schools dragged for mishaps on school buses? Agreements or not, we ensure safety of our students. We will implement all rules but operators must cooperate. Once schools sign agreements, they will be blamed even if it is the fault of bus operators, drivers, attendants."

"Let RTOs come up with new rules each day. We will implement what the court orders," said Anil Garg, president of school bus owners association.

Arundhati Chavan, president of Parents Teachers Association United Forum, said schools and contractors were equally responsible for student safety.

"Schools cannot shirk responsibility, they have to bring bus contractors under contract. In the dispute between schools and transport authorities, parents are sufferers. I think to come to a mutual agreement, RTOs must allow schools to make a transport committee including representatives of management, parents and bus operators. Schools must bring bus operators under contract to ensure they implement all norms laid down by the school bus safety policy," Chavan said.

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