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Over 5,000 school buses across Mumbai may stop plying from Wednesday

Over 5,000 school buses across Mumbai may stop plying from Wednesday
Over 5,000 school buses across Mumbai may stop plying from Wednesday

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The School Bus Owners Association (SBOA), the largest organisation of bus owners in Mumbai, has said that it will not be able to ply buses from Wednesday owing to the acute shortage of cost post demonetization.

The association, which represents around 5,000 school buses across 450 schools, has asked the government to allow them to withdraw more than Rs 20,000 a day, in order to meet their their daily expenses.

The limit of Rs 20,000 a day was imposed following the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on Tuesday.

Now, almost a week into the demonetization, bus operators fear that the limit could hamper their services as they won’t have money to refuel their buses.

SBOA president Anil Garg said, “Although the weekly withdrawal limit is Rs 20,000, each bus owner needs that amount every day to pay for fuel and maintenance. The weekly cap makes it impossible for us to ply our vehicles every day.”

Garg also said that it also not feasible for operators to hand over their credit cards to every driver for refueling.

“There were several delays due to huge queues at the petrol pumps this week. As a result, many students reached school late. However, the situation just keeps getting worse as many ATMs in the city still aren’t functioning. We’ve run out of options. The government needs to intervene,” Garg added.

The association has therefore demanded that the government either increase the withdrawal limit or they will be forced to stop plying buses from Wednesday.

The association’s demand, meanwhile, has met with severe criticism by both parents and schools, who feel that the association is trying to hold everyone at ransom.

“We all are facing inconvenience due to the demonetization, but stopping services is not an alternative. Most bus operators have tie-ups with petrol pumps, who bill them monthly. Those who don’t, can still pay using old notes as the government has extended the deadline. Even advance cheques can be issued in lieu of refueling. But the association wants to ignore all options and go off roads,” said Prabhat Naik, whose kid travels to his school in Andheri via a bus everyday.

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