School bus operators flout rules, get RTO notices

Six months after the state government introduced modifications and finalised school bus safety police, Regional Transport Offices (RTO) in Mumbai have detained about 18 buses and served memos to more than a 100 bus operators for failing to adhere to the policy.

Looking to give time to school bus operators to introduce the norms laid down in the policy, the state transport department waited for six months before initiating a checking drive.

"As far as possible we are trying not to detain buses because we don't want school children to suffer. We have given 10-15 days time to all school bus operators to whom memos have been served to comply with the norms or face temporary suspension," said V N More, state transport commissioner, adding there are about 2,500 school buses operating in Mumbai.

The RTO for the central region at Tardeo has issued memos to 74 school bus operators over the past four days and detained 15 buses.

Likewise, RTO for western region at Andheri has detained two buses and issued notices to 20 school bus operators. The RTO for the eastern region at Wadala has dispatched notices to eight school bus operators and Wadala RTO has detained one school bus.

"Most of the buses have been detained for reasons such as non-payment of motor vehicles tax and problems with fitness certificate," More said. The Wadala RTO had detained three buses for non-payment of the motor vehicles tax, but two operators promptly paid up the tax and the buses were released, he added.

The transport department has prepared a format of questions, which the inspectors have to stick to while checking buses. Inspectors have also been told not to inspect buses that are in the process of ferrying children, he added.

When approached Anil Garg, president of School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) said, "Every Friday they detain school buses for some or the other reason, however, the driver and the owner are produced in court only next Thursday. Later they impose fines and relieve us, but the entire process takes a week or two. This is because the RTO is short staffed. Due to this buses are unable to ply students and not because we are protesting. Our operators have been warned that after getting memos, if the buses are seen plying, RTO will suspend their permits for one month."

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