Right to Information – Master key to good governance

No CNG buses for school kids

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 5, 2006

No CNG buses for school kids
– Rahul Mangaonkar
Times of India, Ahmedabad 5.8.2006

After a training session on Right to Information (RTI) at Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration last week, Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) is finally learning to respond to queries.

The public information officer (PIO), who is also the AMTS director of traffic, deigned to reply to a question on the status of deploying CNG buses for school transport, on August 1, 2006, but the response wasn’t too encouraging.

“The number of buses required for routes charted out by the AMTS are not available. Therefore, on the instructions of the SC-appointed Bhurelal Committee and that of the state government, buses were procured from private operators. This has been done on a per kilometre basis, and buses have been taken on rent. These are now plying on the routes of AMTS. A total of 208 mini CNG buses have been obtained on rent. The AMTS does not own any mini CNG bus.” But that’s as far as passenger traffic goes. When it comes to school transport, AMTS is at a loss.

“At least 354 buses would be required on the 96 routes on which different schools are located, which under the present condition, is not possible,” the PIO said. “Of the CNG buses taken by AMTS on rent, in the past, there have been incidents of short circuit in at least two. Therefore, one has to look at the safety aspect when kids are involved. .”

Now the moot questions arises. Are children of the city not citizens? With the mandate of providing public transport lying squarely on the shoulders of AMTS, why does it not increase the fleet in a manner which would have taken care of the growing demand of the city. The PIO mentions the pressure from Bhurelal Committee, but what he does not mention are the promises made by the AMTS in the past about the number of buses they will deploy. In a meeting of Bhurelal Committee held on May 14, 2005, at the Circuit House, the then municipal commissioner made tall promises. By June 30, 2005, 270 CNG buses were to ply in the city and all 390 buses would be converted to CNG by July 31, 2005. Bhurelal suggested that as per the original commitment, 455 buses in CNG mode should be introduced in the first phase – a promise was made to achieve this target. So by now, there should have been enough buses to take care of normal commuters as well as school kids.

The Right to Education Bill also puts the onus of school transport on the State. With commissioner, transport, having passed an order restricting the number of children in an auto, it’s time other commissioners start implementing it.


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