Chennai: The transport department recently issued a circular to corporations stating that conductors and drivers restricting students with free bus pass from boarding the buses would be suspended.
The move came after a 17-year-old student died when he rammed into a pillar while travelling on footboard, earlier this month. “Buses must stop in all bus stops and conductors must treat students properly. Branch manager of each depot and zonal deputy officer must make sure that it is being adhered and the authorities at the depot must conduct checks from 8 to 10 am,” the circular read.
Sources from Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) state two major reasons for not following the rule properly.
“Firstly, despite several warnings students, especially school kids continue to travel on footboard. Numerous incidents occurred in the past where a student on
footboard slipped and the back wheel crushed him to death. Fearing this, if we raise our voice, the students complain of ill-treatment on the buses,” said K.Raja, a conductor.
He further added that the driver has no visibility of the vehicles coming from behind, if people travel in footboard on the front, which makes them more prone to accidents.
Another reason why most government buses do not stop buses in stops near colleges or schools is that the incentives to the bus crew based on the daily ticket collection takes a beating if they accommodate more students, said sources. “Moreover, the authorities fix a target for each bus depending on the bus route and timing.
Generally, the target is high in the morning due to office-goers. But, as the students are equally high and they sneak in quicker, they fill the bus,” said P. Rajesh, another conductor adding that they are either issued a memo or the posting is cancelled if the target is not met.
However, students rue that the attitude of conductors to refrain them from boarding to increase their collections is wrong. “The government should not have issued a free pass if they want more money. Due to this, neither can we board the bus not buy a ticket,” said a student, S. Yuvaraj.
What can be a possible solution?
In 2012, after a school at West Mambalam complained about government buses refusing to halt near the schools, the then traffic inspector of MTC, L. Govindaraj took an innovative step.
“Students were made to stand in separate lines for each bus route and they were made to hold the board of the bus number. With the help of sports tutor, the students would get inside buses maintaining discipline. However, it had soon gone to the winds,” said Govindaraj.
He said such alternative can be adopted for all the schools and awareness campaigns for students, parents and teachers must be conducted by MTC to sensitise them on the issue....