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MAHARASHTRA: With new SOPs, school bus owners mull 30% fee hike!

MUMBAI: School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) on Wednesday said it may hike bus fees by 30% in view of stringent SOPs issued by state transport department a day earlier.
Anil Garg of SBOA said, “Every bus can now carry only 50% of total capacity, making it financially difficult to ferry children at the previous cost. We will have to hike fees by nearly 30%. We will take a representation to schools soon.”

A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.

�Andrio Domeco�
The operators said a key SOP was getting into an agreement with school authorities, for which they have faced difficulties earlier. “Schools signing agreements will have to take responsibility for children travelling in buses. While some readily sign the agreement, other schools are reluctant to own responsibility,” Garg alleged.
SBOA also demanded a financial package from government, as unlike other modes of transport, school buses were shut down for one-and-a-half years, causing hardships to operators, and rendering over a lakh attendants and drivers jobless across the state. “It is high time the government offers us a financial package and waives road taxes for at least six months, as it did for private tourist buses,” Garg said, adding that operators should also receive financial aid to restart business.
“As per the present SOPs, we will have to santinise buses twice daily, keep them clean, keep masks and sanitisers on board besides, taking preventive care of students travelling to school,” he said.
Attendants will have to ensure social distancing in the bus. “Each student should be seated with adequate gap/distance maintained from a fellow student in the bus. Ideally, the carrying capacity should be not more than 50%,” the SOP said. It said bus windows should be kept open throughout the journey but in an AC bus, the temperature should be maintained at 24-30 degrees. Driver and attendant have to be fully vaccinated.
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