The public transport for students project will be reviewed in its totality as from today, 20th of April. The question arose when members of the Opposition queried as to why the budget for free transport was set to be inferior from that of 2014. The Minister of Transport, Nando Bodha, had thus responded that the formula for the allocation of subsidies would be re-evaluated and that appropriate changes would then follow; for instance, paying the bus operators according to the number of students who travel in public transport vehicles. Furthermore, students will possibly have to use smart cards in the near future for public transport.
The new formula for free transport for students has been announced in Parliament on the 16th of April: the whole system will be reviewed as from today, 20th of April, as proclaimed by the Minister of Transport, Nando Bodha.
The budget assigned for the free transport programme has been reduced this year. Last year, Rs 1.2 billion were paid to bus operators for all the categories of beneficiaries. The amount of money has been reduced to Rs 620 000 for the time period lasting from January 2015 to June 2015. As such, the allocation of subsidies will be re-evaluated.
As a matter of fact, the bus operators obtaining the subsidies will now be made to sign a contract; the previous method entailed an agreement in principle dating back from 2006. Rather, they will now be paid based on the number of students travelling in public transport. Nando Bodha has explained that they will identify how many students travel to their institutions and by which means by focusing on the proportion of students taking the school bus.
The minister also mentioned the introduction of smart cards for students.
Certain measures are already being implemented. For instance, students will all be required to have seats in buses; gone is the time of “standing in buses”. These short-term measures have been designed for the security of students while the “re-engineering” of the system is being prepared.
As for now, the measures mentioned are restricted to students of primary and secondary schools. Nothing has been said yet relating to the elderly and the physically disabled individuals who also benefit from free public transport.