RTA sets responsibilities of school transport stakeholders
Since the introduction of the School Transport Law in the Emirate of Dubai in 2008, the RTA has been paying growing attention to this vital sector with a view to adopting the highest international practices, and has therefore been keen on publishing at varying interval the School Transport Manual in the Emirate of Dubai. This Guide is distributed to school managements, transport companies concerned with school transport, and parents particularly as it details the respective responsibilities assigned to each party in this regard in order to ensure both the safety and convenience of the whole exercise.
Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Hashimi, Acting Director of Planning & Business Development, RTA Public Transport Agency, said: “The Agency has prioritized the school transport process in the Emirate of Dubai in order to bring it in line with the highest international standards. This is being achieved through conducting several studies which concluded to a number of core objectives highlighted by the improvement of services rendered by the Agency to schools, ensuring safe & smooth transport for all students through developing and applying the global safety measurements and standards to all buses, developing suitable marketing strategies to boost the services of school buses & raising the awareness of students about them, and following up demands, complaints, and suggestions relating to school transport in the Emirate and taking appropriate measures.
“No doubt the Emirate of Dubai has seen a remarkable increase in the number of school students, be it public or private; which in turn has triggered an increase in the number of schools and their distribution across the Emirate. In 2012 there were 224 schools (146 private and 78 public), 4560 school buses (an increase of about 18% compared to the year before where there was 3864 buses), 5179 school bus conductors, 131,491 students using school buses, and 5,684 drivers who have undergone intensive courses delivered by Drivers Affairs Department at the Agency,” he explained.
“Various responsibilities have to be assumed by parties involved with the school transport process (school managements, parents, bus drivers and bus conductors) and they have got to discharge their respective responsibilities in an appropriate manner in order to improve the quality of school transport services up to the excellence standards. The school management caters to a set of responsibilities which include the provision of suitable buses for special needs, appointing staffs to be directly responsible for the tracking of buses with whom parents can communicate, the principal of the school has to review and endorse the bus route, and a lady conductor has to be deployed in each bus for all grades up to Grade 6, boys excluded.
“As for parents, the Agency is keen on offering them educative workshops about the use of school transport, educating them on the importance of this transport system, directing their wards to follow the guidance of bus drivers & conductors, and communicating the school management about any behavioural issues of their children. The bus driver assumes a huge responsibility for the compliance with the rules of driving & traffic reflected in disciplined driving observing the maximum speed limit of 80 km/h for the safety of students, ensuring that students are seated before the bus moves, stopping at the safe places designated for picking up and dropping off students, in addition to other responsibilities related to the safety and security of students on board,” added Al Hashimi.
“Bus conductors have to assume the responsibilities tasked to them such as assisting students in boarding or disembarking from the bus, ensuring that no students or school bags are left on board upon arrival at the terminal point, organizing the seating of students on board, assisting students in crossing streets, and ensuring that students are handed over to their family members,” elaborated the Acting Director of Planning & Business Development, RTA Public Transport Agency.
Al Hashimi referred to the school transport conference held by the RTA last April which saw the participation of specialists and experts from Arab countries and beyond to furnish the parties involved in this field with the successful practices of advanced countries in this sector and the latest technologies used in the school transport environment. The Conference culminated the substantial efforts and communication between the RTA and the National Association for Pupils Transportation in the USA towards concluding the best results and realizing the objectives of the event, he noted.
“The school transport in the Emirate of Dubai has had a significant contribution towards boosting the public transport culture among parents as perceived in the remarkable increase in the number of students using school buses in public or private schools. The training courses held for individuals concerned with the entire transport process proved to be instrumental in highlighting the importance of public transport system and its role in reducing the environmental pollution resulting from private vehicles, and continuously assuring parents of the safety of their wards during their daily shuttles on school buses. To step up the cooperation and concerted efforts with all parties involved as well as the community members, the RTA has provided a host of communication channels including the telephone number 8009090, and the website which receives suggestions contributing to the improvement of this vital transport sector,” concluded the Acting Director of Planning & Business Development, RTA Public Transport Agency.