NEKRTC's 'height' of nonsense

NEKRTC's 'height' of nonsense

In an informal, but bizarrely discriminating, move recently, NEKRTC has ruled that any 12-year-old-or-below child whose height is or appears to be over 140 cms would be liable to pay full ticket fare, a norm applicable only for adults.

The bus conductor’s discretion — solely based on the scales of his or her eyes — would count.

According to existing regulations, children up to the age of six years can travel on any NEKRTC bus free of cost. But children between six and 12 years are charged half the price of a ticket and those above 12 years should duly pay the full fare. Not any more.

Since March this year, not just age but the child’s height will be taken into account before he or she purchases a ticket. NEKRTC’s new circular to all divisional controllers clearly states that in the event of any dispute or claim or complaint over the age of the child, conductors would have to measure the height.

If it is found to be below 140 cms, the child should be treated as a kid below 12 years of age and if the measuring scale showed the child’s height to above 140 cms, he/she should be treated as an adult and charged full fare.

The strange circular forgot to mention if it would be mandatory for bus conductors to carry measuring tapes or scales along with their bags-full of loose change and tickets!
While overlooking such detail, the circular has chosen to make height the only criterion for determining a child’s age. Of course, the shortsighthed babus also failed to consider there could be adults (or midgets) whose height could be 140 cms or less.

When contacted, NEKRTC officials feigned ignorance of the circular. But enquiries revealed that the contents of the circular was in operation in Koppal division.

A letter issued by the Koppal divisional controller to some of his colleagues recently is an example of the measure of his sense of proportion, if not his mind.

In his letter to the depot managers in Koppal, Yelburga, Gangavati and Kushtagi, he says that bus conductors wishing to measure a child’s height could do so using the first step of the footboard as a measuring device.

According to the letter, should a dispute arise over a child’s age, one footboard could be used and the ticket fare charged accordingly. In this regard, the divisional controller has sought compliance reports from depot managers.

Understandably, the NEKRTC circular has become an object of ridicule among bus conductors. Dinakar Patil (real name withheld), a conductor, said: “This is so ridiculous. It will not work. We have to go by conventional wisdom and common sense while judging children’s age by their height. Our bosses could easily have ruled that every child should carry his/her bith certificate while boarding a bus”. Another conductor pointed out that the circular was a conspiracy to victimise members of his ilk. “We were pulled up in the past for failing to accurately measure the weight of oversized luggage. We were penalised and the money was recovered from our salaries,” he said.

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