Many UAE children take the bus even if some can walk to school

Many UAE children take the bus even if some can walk to school

46 per cent of students use school transport, according to a 2018-2019 education report by property consultant Knight Frank.

By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Mon 11 Mar 2019, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Mon 11 Mar 2019, 8:55 PM

How often do you see students riding their bikes or walking to school in Dubai? Despite a growing number of schools opening in various neighbourhoods - most are within walking distance of residential areas - going to school by bus remains a popular option among parents and pupils.
According to a 2018/2019 education report by property consultant Knight Frank, 46 per cent of students use school transport; 53 per cent of a school's students reside within a five-kilometre radius; and 70 per cent of the survey's respondents agreed that they have witnessed a decline in their schools' catchment diameter due to a wider array of choices available.
A parent of two children, Gizala Khazi, said it takes her kids 20 minutes to get to school from their home, and they use the bus.
"The average time a child spends on a school bus is approximately one hour - even if you live two kilometres away from the school and use the school bus," she said.
"Students will be picked up as per schedule. Those picked up first would be dropped off first and those picked up last would be dropped off last. So, it doesn't matter if a school is far or near.
If it's a very good school, we wouldn't mind sacrificing on the buses' timings." As for riding their bikes to school, Khazi said she feels "too protective" of her kids to allow them to do that.
Another mum of two, Sadia Gul, believes cycleways and proper pedestrian lanes have to be set up for children who may want to ride their bikes or walk to school, especially in areas where construction works are ongoing.
"There should be a cycling track. My son goes by bus and he can't wake up early, so every day is a struggle," she said. "His school is 13km away and it takes less time by car, but since he travels on a bus, he has to leave early. Walking or cycling to school, I think, is not an option as it's hot here as well."
Some students have insisted that even if they can't cycle all the way to their schools, they are able to get their daily morning exercise by walking to their bus stops. Arun Sinnamari, a student at Our Own English High School, rides the bus to school every day.
"The reason I prefer the school bus is because it keeps the students active. We walk for a few metres to give ourselves some physical exercise. This helps us do a morning walk. We may not get this exercise if we use a car to go to school," he said.
A student at GEMS Wellington International School, Samay Dadlani, said: "I always use a school bus. Aside from the physical activity I get to do, the walk towards the bus stop also gives me the chance to be more sociable. It's fun to take a stroll with many other schoolchildren of different ages."
There are a few kids, however, who use the Dubai Metro to reach their schools. Kajal Abhay Narsian, a student at The Indian High School in Dubai, finds this form of transportation more convenient than the others.
"I love to travel via Metro because I get to reach school much earlier. It's easily accessible, too, as our home is within walking distance of a Metro station and my school is also near one. Therefore, I get to do my morning walk as well," she said.

Students go green with their transport of choice
Going to school by bus is a popular choice among students, and many believe it helps the environment by reducing the number of vehicles on the road.
If a typical school bus can accommodate almost 60 children, this means there will be 60 less private cars on the roads, said Amber Gabriel, a student at GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai.
"Public transport is always a better option, and it's a great thing that it reduces pollution. It also feels nice to be around with friends in the morning on my way to school," Gabriel said.
Manail Fatima, a student at GEMS Westminster School, Sharjah, also believes reducing the number of cars on UAE roads can help eliminate air pollution.
"I use my school bus to go to school. It is true that if we use our own vehicle, getting to school would be much easier and faster as there wouldn't be several stops and we wouldn't have to wait for other children. However, we should also think about our environment and not just our own convenience.
"If everyone were to use their own vehicles, there would be a huge spike in air pollution that it would be almost difficult to breathe. Hence, I prefer public transport, like buses for school and for work," Fatima said.
It is for the same reason that Dubai authorities have always discouraged people from using private cars. In fact, the emirate holds an annual Car Free Day, when residents are asked to leave their cars at home and use other transport means, such as the Metro, public buses, cycling, and walking.
A student at Delhi Private School in Sharjah, Dhiresh Himthani, said bus transportation is also the best choice for those who cannot be dropped off by their parents, especially if their homes are too far from the school.
He also agreed that such an option comes with environmental benefits.
"By using school buses, we are helping the environment as buses emit fewer pollutants than cars on per-kilometre travel. Using buses would also help students reach their schools earlier as traffic congestions can be avoided with fewer cars on the roads," Himthani said.

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