Will new children’s transport regulations be postponed?

Vladimir Savelyev, 27.06.2014 08:35
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Tour operators specializing in school bus tours are waiting with bated breath. New ‘Regulations on the organized transport of groups of children by bus’ come into effect on June 22 and are going to prohibit using buses that have been in service for more than 10 years for this purpose.

RST is sounding the alarm. The Union’s officials have surveyed the state of buses in Russian regions; they have interviewed regional tourism associations, tour operators specializing in children’s holidays, transport companies, and regional authorities. It turns out that the requirement to use new buses is, for all intents and purposes, going to strongly undermine school bus tourism.

According to the RST’s Vice-President Yury Barzykin, in the majority of regions the average number of buses that are used for children’s transport and the service life of which exceeds 10 years is about 70%. For instance, in Udmurtia these buses comprise more than 85% of the whole bus fleet, in Samara Oblast – 90%, in Yaroslavl Oblast – 93%. Even in Moscow the older transport prevails, taking up the share of 77%. The best results have been shown by St. Petersburg, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk Oblasts, and the Komi Republic, where the number of buses that meet the new requirements is 40-50%.

Barzykin said that the majority of regions do not plan on buying new foreign-produced buses, since starting this year’s April the customs duty on the import of buses with the Euro-4 engine classes on the territory of the Customs Union has been 18%.

‘It is clear that the government just wants the transportation of children to be safer, but in this regard the service life of a bus is not the deciding factor, which would rather be thorough technical maintenance of buses and strict adherence to service rules,’ he said.

TRN magazine reached out to Moscow tour operators that specialize in children’s bus tours to ask their opinion on the introduction of new transport regulations for groups of children.

Head of Ankor’s Russian office Yelena Sharina said that the company would suffer severe losses should these regulations be introduced.

‘We use both our own buses and buses of transport companies. The ratio of buses with more than 10 years of service to the newer ones is about 70% to 30% respectively. There are fewer new buses available, and it costs more to rent them. The transport costs double, which means that the new regulations will virtually destroy school bus tourism,’ she said.

People at ‘Inters’ feel less desperate.

‘Our buses are new, made in 2005-2006. If our buses are not enough, we use our partners’ vehicles,’ said Head of the Russian office Yelena Ivanchenko.

Yury Barzukin, who is quite worried by the negative prospects for the children’s transport, filed an official appeal with the government and with Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.

RST’s vice president says that today Olga Golodets has held a meeting on the tourism issues, where this topic has also been given attention.

‘The deputy prime minister ordered this situation to be sorted out, and we await the official decision to be issued on Monday or Tuesday. There is hope that the introduction of the new transport regulations will be postponed after all,’ he said.

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