Bus crews hit with wrath of students, elderly
20 April 2011
From 2008 to 2010, a total of 877 complaints were received by the National Transport Authority (NTA) about the free travel scheme.
Of these, 681 complaints came from students and 196 from oldaged pensioners against conductors/drivers who behaved rudely and who, at times, deliberately refuse to take them on board at bus stops.
The figures were revealed in parliament yesterday by the Minister of Public Infrastructure, National development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping Anil Bachoo following a question from PMSD MP, Ms Aurore Perraud.
Enquiries have led to licences being suspended for periods varying from two weeks to six months depending on the seriousness of the offence.
In total, 77 drivers, 134 conductors and 14 bus owners have been sanctioned.
Following the introduction of the free transport scheme for oldaged pensioners and students in 2005, a Central Monitoring Committee comprising representatives of the National Transport Authority (NTA), different ministries and bus operators was set up to look into problems arising from its implementation.
All major problems relating to free transport are dealt with at the level of this standing Monitoring Committee, explained Minister Bachoo.
The main findings of the Committee:
- students and old-aged pensioners are at times deliberately left at bus stops by “unscrupulous” drivers/conductors;
- conductors/drivers behave rudely with old-aged pensioners and students; and
- reluctance on the part of bus operators to provide dedicated school services.
However, Mr Bachoo told the National Assembly, no case of drivers under the influence of drugs has been reported. In the light of these findings, the following actions have been
- The Road Traffic (Bus Fares) Regulations was amended in 2005 to take the following actions against drivers and conductors who failed to pick up or who behaved uncivilly towards students: IN THE CASE of a first breach, to forfeit five days payment IN THE CASE of a second or subsequent breach committed within a period of six months from the date of the first or previous breach as the case may be, to forfeit 10 days payment.
In addition to disciplinary action initiated against bus crew and bus operators, the following preventive measures are also being taken:
- regular checks are being carried out by officers of the inspectorate of the NTA to ensure that beneficiaries of free travel enjoy a satisfactory service;
BUS CREWS AND OWNERS SANCTIONED
- whenever officers of the NTA intervene on the radio, they urge members of the public to report any unlawful act on the part of the bus crew;
- in cases where students are involved, inspectors of the NTA are sent to schools to record statements and, subsequently, disciplinary cases are scheduled during school vacation so as to avoid inconveniences to the complainants; and
- provision is made for dedicated school services to some schools which are outside the normal itinerary of bus routes or where regular services cannot spare accommodation in buses.
“On the operational side, bus operators have been requested to submit details of their monthly trips and any operator performing trips below the average for any route is penalised,” added the minister.
As such, it is ensured that there are no missing trips on any route for the benefit of old-aged pensioners. Mr Bachoo also revealed that deductions have been made from the payment of bus operators.
“In 2007, some Rs10.4 million has been deducted, in 2008, Rs5.7m, 2009, Rs4.8m and 2010, Rs5.8m.” The National Transport Authority has negotiated the provision of dedicated school buses for a certain number of colleges which are situated at a distance from main bus stops. Some 478 such buses are operated daily carrying about 35,000 students.