A double-decker bus, belonging to the Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSTRC), is now a classroom and a place for recreation for students of the Government Lower Primary School here. The two-tier classroom has been created out of one of two decrepit low-floor buses out of hundreds meant to be scrapped by the State-run transport body. The bus was donated to the school located within the campus of the Government Teachers Training Institute (TTI) at Manacaud.
The classroom on wheels has a TV, air-conditioner, chairs with multi-coloured tables, benches, and shelves for books, but the steering wheel and the driver’s seat have been retained so that children can play as if they were driving the bus. The upper tier is designed for reading and recreation.
The sides of the bus sport a light-blue and yellow colour with drawings of birds, trees, animals and books, among others — a lively attraction for the pre-primary students who would have the opportunity to use this classroom as schools reopen on Wednesday after a over 2-year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 17, State Transport Minister Antony Raju agreed to provide the two buses to the government school.
The Minister, in a lighter vein, said now no one should say they only want low-floor buses, not buildings to hold classes. Later speaking to reporters, Raju had said building a classroom from scratch costs crores of rupees, while converting the bus into a classroom would cost less. For KSRTC, it is a negligible loss.
According to a statement from the KSRTC in the Kerala High Court last month, it has around 239 low-floor rear-engine buses lying unused in its depots. The 239 buses are more than nine years old and have run over 5 lakh kilometers and therefore, the corporation has decided to scrap them. KSRTC told the court, in response to a PIL (public interest litigation) alleging that around 2,800 such buses were lying unused in depots.
Refuting this, KSRTC told the court that 1,736 buses were lying unused due to COVID-19 and of them 920 were earmarked for scrapping and the rest were to be utilised for service operations. Presently, only around 455 buses were lying unused, it had told the court then.