Even though the UT administration has allowed all private and public schools to start physical classes from primary grades and attendance has started to increase, school buses are still lacking on the roads. School bus operators say they are reeling from losses caused by the Covid-induced lockdown and will not be able to run buses until the administration waives their tax payments for the lockout period.
Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association General Secretary Jiwan Rattan Sharma said, âOur buses have been grounded throughout the lockdown and many of them need to be maintained and repaired. The administration does not give us any subsidy for this, instead asking us to pay road tax during a period when these vehicles were not functional.
He said that although many schools were asking them to resume bus service, they could not start unless the administration relieved them. “We are asking for an exemption from January 2021 to March 2022 and an extension of the life of the school buses to take into account the two-year period during which they have not been used,” added Sharma.
Meanwhile, schools have also reported a higher percentage of parents opting for school buses. Strawberry Fields High School, Sector 26, has three of the 13 buses in service. âThe response has been achievable and from December 1 we plan to operate six of the 13 buses in total. However, it is still too early to start operating all the buses, âsaid Atul Khanna, principal of Strawberry Fields High School.
Likewise, Vivek High School, Sector 38, also operated six buses for around 130 students. School president HS Mamik said undergraduate class attendance exceeded 90% and the schools themselves were subsidizing bus travel to help carriers.
St John’s High School Principal, Sector 26, Kavita Das added: âWith the exams going on right now, we are not running any school buses yet, but we are working on getting them started after the exams are over. She added that with the buses completely stopped since March 2020, it would take a significant investment to get them started, but that’s what parents are demanding with over 50% attendance for offline classes here. .
Parents are also asking for the bus service to be resumed. Many of them cannot send their children to school because the buses are not running yet.