I studied at a residential school. No everyday school-bus rides for me.
When I started teaching, I was exposed to this phenomenon. Large usually packed buses were a common sight. I would cringe and wonder why it had to be like this- why couldn’t schools care more for the kids?
As Principal I realised what the situation was. High Fuel costs and large distances from school to home (especially for popular schools) made the costs prohibitive. I led a 2 day exercise in manipulating bus routes for maximum efficiency and minimum cost. We realised that if we provided comfortable transport (3 children to 2 seats designed to seat 2 adults), the buses were changed every 5 years and we paid traffic cesses as demanded by law, the cost of transportation per child per bus in the city of Kapurthala, Punjab (average one way route distance 48kms) would be Rs. 900 per month , almost what the parents paid for a months tuition!
This was considerably higher than the Rs. 425 they currently paid. Parents refused. The board refused to okay our plan.
The plan to improve the transport was abandoned and the kids continued to travel on older buses, their numbers to seat ratio making them distinctly uncomfortable.
Comfortable school-bus travel remains the preserve of high-fee private schools in the larger cities of India. Most of the rest travel in packed schoolbuses or by other vehicles like the ubiquitous cycle-rickshaw or the auto-rickshaw.
Unsafe. Inane. Tragic. Fun?
(image courtesy: Akshay at Trivial Matters)