More than half of the school buses in Bangalore are not owned by the institutions, but contracted from outside. This, according to a study by an agency, is a dangerous trend as a number of outfits offering private transport means of commuting, have been regularly flouting safety norms.
The survey found that 46 per cent of the total number of buses were owned by the school where as 54 per cent of the buses were contracted out.
Despite Bangalore’s IT capital tag, the City was far behind in using technology to ensure a safe commute for school children, the survey found. A mere 9.23 per cent of the schools were found to be using Global Positioning System (GPS) in buses. Although nearly 32 per cent of the schools surveyed had speed governors only a dismal eight per cent of these speed governors were found to be working.
The survey was conducted across 200 well-known schools in the City by Magnasoft, a Bangalore-based company that specialises in using Geospatial/Geographic Information System (GIS) technology for safe commuting. The data for the current year is still in the process of being compiled.
Tracking school bus accidents, the survey found that the number of unreported accidents was three to five times higher than those that were reported, the survey says.
The frequency of accidents involving school children and school buses has of late risen to such an extent that it prompted the government to issue guidelines with regards to school safety on January 25.
Some of these guidelines are: School vehicles should be highway yellow in colour with a horizontal green strip in the middle, the words ‘school cab’ should prominently imprinted on all four sides etc. These measures are likely to come into affect from May 1.
The authors of the survey spoke to nearly 10,000 parents over the course of the year besides conducting interviews with school managements, and the transport in-charge in these schools. Basic questions such as the number of buses in a school and measures of safety put in place, were some of the queries that were asked to school managements whereas parents were asked questions such as whether or not such safety measures was checked by them among various other things.
“We tried speaking to many more schools than the eventual 200 schools. However, they were more sceptical about it and were not so cooperative. It was also quite shocking to find out that most parents with whom we tried to speak were not willing to cooperate and instead were scared of a backlash from the school,” said Kunal Ashar, one of the authors of the survey.