This time when I was in Chennai, I saw a 12B bus going in front of me. I happened to notice a bunch of school kids hang out of the bus on the foot board and it was really scary.
I have done this quite a few times when I was of that age, but when I see it now, I am shocked at the amount of danger that goes with the thrill that the kids get out of it.
I could not help taking a few quick photos so that I can publish it here.
If you notice the bus closely (I think the picture below offers a better quality view of the way in which they are hanging outside the bus), you will see that many possibilities exist. I am listing them all here based on my past experiences and expertise in hanging from the foot board:
- A slip and fall from the bus could put them right below the back tyres of the bus and they can get crushed instantly.
- A stop and a quick start might make them fall in front of the vehicle behind the bus, in which case they usually escape with a few broken bones.
- A sudden brake could throw them off the bridge in which case, they might not survive.
- Any fast movement to a lamp post with minimum gap between the bus and the lamp post will result in fatal hit to the head or a fracture to any other part of the body that hits the post.
I am quite sure each one of them know exactly about this kind of the danger that lies in travelling like this. Still, why do kids do it, it is not just for thrill. It is also out of necessity. I know how it feels to get your clothes crushed every day, when you go inside the bus. I know how it feels to get yelled at by the watchman at school for coming late. The kids cannot say ‘bus was overcrowded’. So what we do? We take the brave option out: We hang out in the foot board, do not get our clothes crushed and at the same time are never late to school. What is the casuality here? Once a year, one of us get to sacrifice our life in exchange for this. Is it is worth it? Parents feel it is not, kids feel it doesnt matter, Government feels they dont care.
People have tried many times in the past to warn, threaten and complain about kids (like me) travelling like this. If you see that it has not stopped even after twenty years, I feel we could take a slightly different approach.
Why can the Government of Tamil Nadu not operate buses with closed doors? All of us are claiming that India is booming, India is flourishing, India is shining – why cant we operate buses with closed doors, better ventillation (and if possible air conditioning) without burdening the common public with any more increase in the ticket rates??
I am quite sure none of the ministers or MPs or MLAs kids will ever travel by bus – so I cannot be asking them to understand that it is not just the thrill, but it is also the necessity that we cannot afford to miss going to school on time. It is easy to say ‘Good kids go to school early – without hanging in food board and only kids who dont study hang out on the footboard’. You are wrong. Kids who care about studies, also hang out on the foot board. Example: ME.
So, instead of giving excuses and blaming the kids, see if you can do something good to solve this problem once for all by providing buses with closed doors.