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Chinese experts call for more government financial support for school bus safety

(Xinhua)

16:09, December 14, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Education experts and lawmakers have called on the government to give more financial support for the country's school bus development in order to make it safer.

A report in the Wednesday edition of the China Youth Daily quoted an unnamed official from the Ministry of Education as saying that as of April, only 10 percent of the country's 285,000 school buses in use are up to standards.

China issued a set of technical standards for school buses for primary school students last year, and the drafting of another standard for buses for kindergartners is also under way.

However, the newspaper said these standards are only binding for the school bus manufacturers -- not for school bus service operators, and many schools buy or rent ordinary vehicles, or even farm vehicles, to transport students.

Higher costs to run and maintain the specially-designed school buses may be one of the reasons for the problem, the article said.

According to the report, the average price of a qualified school bus is 100,000 to 200,000 yuan (15,760 to 31,520 U.S. dollars) higher than other similar coaches, and long idle times while students are at school or on vacation also adds to the operation costs.

The newspaper quoted Li Qiang, a manager of an automobile manufacturer in Henan province as saying that in 2009, the company sold 200 school buses, and sales hit a "record" 1,000 this year.

However, the figure is still too small compared with the sales of the company's other vehicles that reached 40,000 last year.

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