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Updated: June 4, 2013 15:44 IST

‘Schooling students on footboard proposal not easy’

Asha Sridhar
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Strict enforcement, more buses and increased awareness are needed to stop students from travelling on footboards, say experts. Photo: M. Karunakaran
The Hindu
Strict enforcement, more buses and increased awareness are needed to stop students from travelling on footboards, say experts. Photo: M. Karunakaran

Headmasters say it is not possible to monitor students outside; more buses needed to curb practice

For S. Preeti, who takes two buses from her home in Nerkundram to get to her school in Egmore, watching people hang precariously from an overcrowded bus is routine.

“Since I board the bus at the Koyambedu terminus, I get place to sit. As more people board along the way, many travel on the footboard. It is very common,” she said, casually. “Who does not know that it is dangerous,” she shrugged.

Last week, the Madras High Court said that if students who travel by footboard do not pay heed to repeated warnings by traffic police, parents, and the head of the educational institution they study in, institutions can expel the students after giving a notice to the parents.

This came after the horrific accident on December 10, in which four young students on a bus footboard were crushed to death by a lorry.

Headmasters of schools which have students travelling by buses, however, observe that though this may instil some fear in the minds of students, there are practical difficulties in implementing the proposal if it comes into force.

The problem, they say, is not just about young boys riding on the footboard in an attempt to seem macho, but also about overcrowded buses. The headmaster of a school run by the Chennai Corporation in north Chennai recalls how he had put up a poster in his school that said: ‘Your parents are waiting for you at home. Do not travel by footboard’.

“We repeatedly talk to students about the perils of travelling by footboard,” he said. But, there is only so much ‘creating awareness’ can do. The problem in north Chennai, he observed is peculiar because, over the past eight years the enrolment of students in schools has risen, whereas there has been no increase in bus services.

“There must be sufficient buses for students, and they must have functioning doors which can be closed. Because, outside the school, we cannot keep a tab on the students,” he said.

Shaheen Begum, a student who boards 27B (Anna Square to CMBT), however, has a different take on the matter. She said that closing the doors on them is not the solution, and that the number of services must be increased.

“When the bus is crowded in the morning, the conductor sometimes opens only one door, and halts some distance away from the bus stop. We either run and catch the bus, or wait for the next bus which comes fifteen minutes later, and is almost as crowded,” she said angrily, adding that that there were at least three schools which fall within the bus route.

J. Balaji, whose school is in Purasawalkam, smiled sheepishly when asked about how often he travels on the footboard. “I used to, earlier, but my parents were extremely worried, so I stopped. But, several of my friends still hang on to the footboard when they run and catch a bus despite repeated warnings from the conductor, just for fun,” he confesses. He felt, that the fear that they may be suspended from school, may force them inside the bus for a while, but not for long.

A. Kavya and her friend Bhagyalakshmi, class XI students, too agree. According to them, both their brothers, one younger and another elder, travel on the footboard, while the girls stand inside. “Our parents have warned them repeatedly, but they don’t listen. They then show off to us,” said Kavya.

The headmaster of another Corporation-run school in Perambur, points to a vicious circle that he says, must be broken through strict enforcement, and change, not just awareness at an individual level. “Just a few days ago, I saw college students hanging on a footboard. The problem is long-standing, and cannot be solved overnight,” he said.

The issue, school heads and students say, is about inadequate bus services.

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Increasing the number of buses is the most important solution to the problem.

Integration of Public transport; introduction of feeder services and shuttles between bus stations and railway stations; expedition of projects like Monorail, MRTS extension to St Thomas Mount and to Mamallpuram; providing accessibility and connectivity to the under-utilised MRTS stations; introduction of BRTS; etc are sustainable solutions which will help the city in the long run.

from:  vikram
Posted on: Dec 18, 2012 at 13:21 IST

Why not pneumatic doors for buses like in other countries. This will
prevent foot board travel and avoid over crowding.

from:  ChennaiVaasi
Posted on: Dec 18, 2012 at 04:34 IST

I hope the schools dont stop their bus services again.They are waiting to stop the services,because it costs money and to operate it safely they have to spend money.

from:  James
Posted on: Dec 18, 2012 at 01:41 IST

Traffic sense should be addressed at this time. Erratic drivers of any
vehicles must be dealt with harshly. Bus Drivers and Conductors must
not have any incentives to get more passengers. Races between Buses
must be curbed at all costs. ALL Buses must have DOORS. We have a huge
POPULATION and lots of Unemployed people. Employ more and USE them
No Point going to Singapore as there is NO Freedom there. It is a
STRICT Country and that is why it is clean and neat. Everyone follows
the rules as the punishment is harsh.

from:  chandramouli Mettapalli
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 22:44 IST

Why shouldn't be there a special school bus or Students Only bus service from MTC during the School/College opening and closing hours. Two buses in each prominent route can improve a lot.This will safe gurad students. Reduce rush during peak hours as less students will travel in regular buses. These buses can be made more safe so that students will not or can not get into trouble as far as possible.
This idea will be a revolution as students will spend more time pondering about education than to catch a bus and be safe. A simple white board bus with doors will do. You might think the cost might be more, but volume of passengers will be same hence cost will break even with time.

from:  senthil
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 19:59 IST

In Chennai, there is a culture among school and college students towards
foot board travel just for the heck of it. A conscious effort has to be
made through education to change this culture.

from:  Raja
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 19:02 IST

Why can't we resolve this issue? This issue is not a rocket science. Forcibly We have to ask government to provide more buses in rush routes. Though they won't respond on this. Why don't we go for strike all college & school student? We can shutdown colleges and schools. Education is our basic fundamental right, This was given by supreme court. I am sure Government has basic responsibility to provide basic amenities to students. If government can't provide, then illiteracy will be increased, it causes un employeement, unwanted social elements created. My humble request to government, please provide required bus services to students ASAP.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 18:12 IST

Why can't the schools willingly change the timings? That way the school students can travel at off peak hours. When I used to go to school in chennai, my school started timings were from 7:30 am till 2:30 pm.

from:  Mani Sriganeshan
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 15:23 IST

Why not government take an initiative and create a new Bus service Named PURE
YELLOW LINE which only take school students? And stop allowing students in the
normal buses? just a suggestion.

from:  sethu
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 13:54 IST

The problem is too complex and can't be looked into only from the view of foot board traveling. A comprehensive solution should be thought of, implemented and more importantly, monitored for compliance by all concerned.

from:  D. Chandramouli
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 13:09 IST

TRaveling on footboard by school girl students is dangerous.Why not the school run their own Buses at stipualte time and area wise to collect the student and drop them as well with the cost bourn by the parents, which is safer too, or let there be student (girls) special across the places wherever required if some buses not run in full capacity,but proportionate charges can be levied,since most of buses in the peak area go in full.Or Ladies speail also carry stndents grils as well,There should be way out for this important for secutiy reasons

from:  vaidya
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 13:01 IST

There are enough examples within India that foot board bus travel is not permitted.Both in Mumbai and Bengaluru,there is no foot board travel.These 2 cities lot more citizens than chennai.It is a fact that the 2 khazhagams have destroyed the famed chennai bus transport system and has allowed hooliganism to take over.If the citizens of chennai continue to be mute , only they are to blame.The solution to eliminate foot board travel is compulsory fining of conducts/bus drivers, the bus corporation,the police.Pressure on bus transport corporation to introduce modern buses with doors,more buses in suburbs of varying sizes to take into account road width and proper bus stops and discipline of the bus drivers to stop at designated bus stops.Buses should follow one another especially in bus stops, they cannot over take another bus.Unless these measures are implemented, foot board travel will continue to take its toll.Finally when will be the people of tamilnadu move away from the regressive s?

from:  shiv
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 10:16 IST

Strict enforcement? That's never going to happen. But is it even desirable to travel inside the buses on Chennai streets on most occasions? There is just shoving and pushing, and too much physical contact with other people. I'd rather take a risk hanging on the footboard, and get some fresh air, rather than push and shove inside. Where are the buses in required numbers? We cannot run buses at maximum profit by cramming them, and then expect people to not use the footboard. Let the system turn humane.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 09:28 IST

One better solution shall be mending all the doors. If the doors are closed then no body can stand on the footboard.

from:  Annish
Posted on: Dec 17, 2012 at 08:43 IST
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