Schools are expected to reopen for Standard 8 to Standard 12 on October 4. However, the school bus associations claim they would need at least a month to bring the entire fleet on the road.
There are around 12,000 school buses and vans catering to different schools in Mumbai. Left unused during the lockdown, many buses need urgent repairs. “We will need at least Rs 2 lakh per bus. Also, there is no clear SOP on the same. Accordingly, we will have to call our drivers and other staff," said Anil Garg, School Bus Owners Association. By November, 30 per cent of the fleet will be ready to cater to school children.
Many operators have shut their business or are running their buses on interstate routes. The school bus associations have been demanding aid from the state government to sustain it.
Barely 20 per cent Standard 8 to Standard 10 students opt for the service. "Children have become independent. They prefer walking or cycling to school. Some also prefer being dropped to school by their parents in their personal vehicles," said a school bus operator on condition of anonymity.
The state government has made it clear that children or their parents won't be forced to send kids to school. Both online and offline classes will be available.
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