Mohammed Abu Bakr Al Hashimi, Director of Planning and Business Development at the RTA’s Public Transport Agency, said though it was not the RTA’s prerogative to regulate the school bus fee, the authority has made sure that the modifications are not a big burden on schools.
“Our responsibility is to regulate the safety and security of school buses and to ensure that all school buses are complying with our safety specifications. We have made sure that our specifications are very cost-effective and will not affect the fee structure,” he said.
Al Hashimi said that half of the requirements had been provided by the RTA free of cost and the other should be manageable. He added that the modifications amounted to a one-time cost of around Dhs6,000 per bus, and compared to the money already spent on buying a bus it is very small. “Most of the schools charge a reasonable fee for transportation and this small amount is manageable and could be easily covered by the revenue made through the service,” he said. Reacting to the news that certain schools have hiked fee after the modifications were made compulsory, Al Hashimi said the RTA would take up the matter with the concerned department.
Highlighting the efforts being made by the RTA in this context, he said that the Public Transport Agency had trained over 4,317 drivers for free and issued over 5,000 permits.
“We are offering drivers’ training programme free of cost because it is our moral responsibility to ensure all the kids in Dubai are safe,” explained Al Hashimi. The training programme involves educating drivers about their responsibilities towards students and road users, the basic principles of driving school buses, safe method of boarding and alighting from the school bus, maintaining decorum inside the bus, administering first aid and importantly keeping an eye on the risks involved in driving around school areas. The programme also focuses on avoiding traffic accidents, handling emergencies and driving under changing weather patterns.
Regular inspections are made across different schools in Dubai and violators are slapped with heavy fines.
As many as 154 private schools in the emirate have equipped their buses with safety features, following the RTA’s norms. The total number of buses equipped with the RTA’s stipulated safety features have raised to 2,167 and the authority’s safety team is pushing for more.
The RTA’s safety standards require school buses to be equipped with certain features like: All buses should be painted yellow with name of the particular school written in big bold letters for proper identification, installation and use of stop sign boards on the back and side of the buses, employing a conductor on the buses and not exceeding the maximum speed limit of 80km/hour. — firstname.lastname@example.org
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