RTA soon to steer school transport in Dubai

RTA soon to steer school transport in Dubai

RTA will operate school buses and offer transit services to students of private schools starting from the next academic year.

By Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 27 Apr 2015, 1:59 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:50 PM

Dubai - School bus transport in Dubai will soon fall under the gamut of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), with senior officials announcing that they will be investing in the sector.

The RTA will operate school buses and offer transit services to students of private schools starting from the next academic year. The authority said 50 buses will run the service debut and the fleet will grow to 650 buses by 2024.

Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, issued an administrative order establishing the School Transport Department affiliated to the Dubai Taxi Corporation.

“Information in hand indicates that the total number of students in Dubai is...253,000, of whom 151,000 students (60 per cent) use school buses, and the RTA is seeking to raise this proportion to 70 per cent,” said Al Tayer.

Tasks of the new department will include mapping out annual operation plans, drafting future programmes for school transport, contracting with schools in providing students transit services, and operating a bus fleet at high quality standards.

The department will comprise three sections: Planning and Commercial Affairs, Bus Maintenance and Bus Operation.

“School transport is one of the key public transport sectors in the world lifting millions of students every day. Engaging the RTA in this activity aims at providing safe and smooth transport for all students of different ages. The RTA will deliver safe and high quality services to students in such a way that encourages parents to allow their children to be transported by public transit means instead of private vehicles. It will also support the UAE Education Strategy 2020, raise the bar for school transport, and strike a balance between supply and demand,” Al Tayer explained.

The School Transport Department will be subjected to the same standards, conditions and controls applied to entities operating school transport services. It will also comply with the School Transport Manual published by the RTA detailing specifications of school buses in terms of shape, security and safety standards, and responsibilities of school managements, entities, supervisors, operators, drivers, students and parents.

Zero fatalities

The RTA, represented by the Drivers Affairs Department at the Public Transport Agency, provides training for school bus drivers and supervisors, and subjects them to theoretical and practical tests before issuing them with permits for practising their respective professions, said Al Tayer.

The number of licensed school bus drivers has grown from 5,581 in 2010 to 6,696 drivers in 2012 and to 8,354 in 2014. The number of bus supervisors increased from 2,568 in 2010 to 5,000 in 2012 and 7,579 in 2014.

The RTA undertakes inspection and monitoring of all the school buses in 356 public and private schools and nurseries, and reports offences during scheduled or surprise site visits.

The RTA has coordinated with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority to mandate an NOC from the RTA before granting new permits to educational institutions. Accordingly, the number of NOCs issued from the RTA has grown steadily from 126 in 2010 to 137 in 2012 and to 148 in 2014.

“The RTA is keen on boosting the safety of the school transport sector through running awareness campaigns, holding regular training workshops, and issuing offence tickets to bus operators in breach of the applicable rules. About 2,916 offences were reported in 2010, and the number dropped to 2,467 in 2012, before going up to 3,086 offences in 2014,” said Al Tayer.

As a result of campaigns, the awareness level of school bus operators increased and traffic accidents involving school buses went down from 81 accidents resulting in one fatality and six injuries in 2007 to five accidents and zero fatalities in 2014. -dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com 

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