Dubai: Some school bus drivers found transporting students without necessary permits

RTA told Khaleej Times on Friday it conducted a total of 6,323 inspections of schools buses between July and December in 2023

by

Angel Tesorero

/

Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Published: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 8 Feb 2024, 7:11 PM

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) found some school bus drivers and transport attendants who were working without necessary permits last year.

RTA told Khaleej Times on Friday it conducted a total of 6,323 inspections of schools buses between July and December in 2023.

The transport authority did not reveal how many violations were committed by school transport operators but the common ones observed were: operating school transport without permit; school buses driven by an unauthorised driver; disregarding technical specifications approved by RTA regarding seats; non-compliance with approved technical specifications of interior and exterior appearances of school buses.

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RTA also found violations of other bus safety rules, including not having a fire extinguisher, GPS tracking system and cameras inside the bus.

About the permit

Aside from having a valid UAE driving licence, a school bus driver should also acquire a permit of the same category as the driving licence from the RTA.

To get the permit, the driver must successfully pass the necessary training and pass a test set by RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

The driver should not be less than 25 years old, shall be of good conduct and shall not have any criminal record.

The driver should submit a traffic points report received from authorities and must submit a medical fitness certificate issued by a medical centre approved by the RTA. The same permit is also required for taxi and limousine drivers.

School transport attendants or bus aides are also required to get a permit to work from RTA. He/she must be of good conduct and behaviour; not less than 25 years old; must be medically fit and should pass the tests approved by RTA.

A female supervisor is required on buses transporting: male students up to the fifth grade, and female students up to high school.

Since September 2022, the RTA simplified the process of obtaining permits for professional passenger transport drivers by offering instant passenger transport driver permits, eliminating the previous 24-hour waiting period for approval.

Safety specifications

RTA also noted the technical specifications for bus seats and other safety features, including having safety belts with two meeting points on all passenger seats exposed from the front, such as the front seats and the middle seat from the last seats, with three meeting points on the driver's seat.

There should be no sharp edges found throughout the interior and exterior of the bus. The school bus must have an electronic tracking system or GPS to know the location and whereabouts of the school bus.

Places designated for bags shall be provided, so that they do not hinder the movement of students, and that they shall be secured so that they do not fall on students in cases of sudden stops, accidents, or the regular movement of the bus.

Bus safety standards

The maximum speed of the bus shall not exceed 80km/h, and a speed control device shall be installed in accordance with the conditions and specifications approved by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology.

There should be a first aid box and its supplies shall be commensurate with the number of seats. There must be a fire extinguisher with a capacity of 6kg, designed to extinguish all types of fires. One fire extinguisher is needed for buses with fewer than 50 seats, and two for buses with more than 50 seats.

The lifespan of the bus shall not exceed 15 years from the date of manufacturing and the bus must have emergency exits commensurate with the number of passengers, with at least one emergency exit from each side.

The colour of the bus shall be yellow, without any other colour overlapping, with the words ‘School Bus’ written in black in both Arabic and English. The height of the letters must not be less than 8 inches or 20 cm, and that they shall be written between the upper warning lights or in the highest possible place on the front and back of the bus and in the middle of the sides

Regular inspections conducted

RTA said they carry out intensive inspection campaigns at all educational facilities at the beginning of each semester.

“School buses are inspected when they are spotted in the field, based on periodic inspection plans. Violations are issued to those not adhering to the legislation and regulations, and periodic reports are submitted to the Planning and Business Development Department to take the necessary measures,” RTA added.

Educational facilities with violations are re-visited after the completion of the inspection campaign to ensure the extent of their compliance, and periodic reports are submitted.

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