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School bus rates shoot up in Mumbai: Here is how much you will pay

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New Delhi, Jun 13: School bus operators in Mumbai have said they will raise the charges for ferrying students by at least 20 per cent in the current academic year, as compared to rates before the COVID-19 pandemic, due to fuel price hike and other reasons. The bus charges for students will be increased by 20 per cent or even more, but will differ according to areas and schools, the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) office-bearer Ramesh Maniyan told PTI, as schools across the city opened on Monday.

He said they have been forced to increase school bus charges due to various reasons, like the fuel price hike, payment of salaries of drivers and other staff, increased bus cost, RTO fees, traffic fines and penalties paid in the last two years, when their operations were closed.

School bus rates shoot up in Mumbai: Here is how much you will pay

Though the business was closed for two years due to the pandemic, the salaries of drivers and other staff, like cleaners and female attendants, went up, he pointed out.

Maniyan, who is also an office-bearer of the Mumbai Bus Malak Sanghatana, said the life of a school bus in Mumbai is about eight years, compared to 15 years in other parts of the country.

Hence, they had requested the government to allow them to operate the old buses for another two years as the vehicles were not running during the pandemic, but it was turned down. If the government had accepted the demand, the burden (of bus charges) would not have been passed on to the parents of students, he said.

Meanwhile, the parents of some students said schools have not yet conveyed to them about the increase in bus charges, but some operators have hinted at a hike, which would affect them at a time when they are already reeling under the burden of inflation.

"My daughter's school is located in Byculla area. A school van operator earlier used to charge Rs 900 per month for the journey from Kalachowki area (about three km away).

Though the school has not yet conveyed anything about the bus charges increase, the old operator has told some parents that they are going to charge Rs 1,300 to Rs 1,500, which is quite high for such a short distance," a parent said on condition of anonymity.

The parent further said they are now exploring other options like hiring a cab to ferry a group of students from their locality, as it will be a comparatively cheaper for them.

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