UAE | General

Abu Dhabi school bus operators must get permission to increase fees

Abu Dhabi assures parents that better safety in school buses will not necessarily lead to high transport costs

  • By Sharmila Dhal, Senior Reporter, and Anjana Sankar, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:00 April 24, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: GN Archives
  • Beating bottlenecks: A study of school transport in the capital has led authorities to draw up a new regulatory framework for their operations to ensure safety and efficiency
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Abu Dhabi: School transport operators will not be allowed to increase bus fee without prior approval from ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council), government officials announced.

The move is aimed at stopping arbitrary increase of transportation fee by operators who have to abide by a set of whole new safety regulations in school buses by September.

“Bus operators or schools providing transportation to students should apply for bus free increases to ADEC. Fee hikes will be permitted only if their reasons are justified,” Yousuf Al Ghoul, specialist projects, school transportation planning and scheduling at Department of Transport (DoT) in Abu Dhabi said on Wednesday.

As per new regulations, school bus drivers must be above 25 years of age and should be able to speak English or Arabic. They should also have a good conduct certificate.

The new mandate requires that schools operate sufficient number of air conditioned buses. Boys and girls must sit in separate areas if they are taking the same bus. A supervisor should accompany students below 11 years and buses should not exceed the speed limit of 80km/h.

“Buses should be fitted with closed-circuit cameras, GPS and electronic attendance system among other specifications on seating, air conditioning, exterior aspects etc.”

“Bus operators have time till September to modify 50 per cent of their fleet and the rest should be accomplished by next September” said Ali Makki, stakeholder relationship manager at DoT.

New rules

Meanwhile,Christopher Gawronski, Transport Regulations Specialist at the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, told XPRESS that schools in the capital will have to provide transport services for any student who wants it. “The provision of school transport services will no longer be an option. Every private school must provide services to students who want them. This is among a new set of requirements that schools must comply with.”

Speaking to XPRESS ahead of a workshop in Abu Dhabi on April 24 to apprise schools of the new requirements, Gawronski said a 2010 study of school transportation had led authorities to draw up a new regulatory framework for their operations.

“It will be binding on them to follow certain operating procedures and prescribed standards in terms of their fleet, staff and maintenance.”

He said the new rules are very clear about the credentials of bus drivers who must necessarily be experienced and trained with a one-year valid licence. All buses taking primary school students will have to get escorts on board to ensure the children’s safety.

Highlighting the issue at the International School Transport Conference 2013 in Dubai on April 22, he described how five government agencies in Abu Dhabi had come together to resolve the school transport bottlenecks in Falaj Hazza of Al Ain.

“There are 30-plus schools here with 35,000 students. The high concentration has resulted in heavy traffic delays and poor driving behaviour in the area.”

Having identified the problem, the authorities have been working on a series of steps, both in the short- and long-term, to resolve the issue. For instance, Gawronski said the Abu Dhabi Municipality has been working on a long-term plan to improve access to the area by introducing dedicated school bus roads, raised pedestrian crossings, improved parking standards and one-way service roads.

He said a moratorium on new schools in Falaj Hazza has also been introduced to prevent more schools from coming up in the area. The authorities are also looking at alternative sites to relocate existing schools.

Comments (4)

Your comments
  1. Added 08:47 April 25, 2013

    Is it applicable for dubai based schools, pls authorities must take necessary steps for dubai based schools also.

    irfan, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 07:39 April 25, 2013

    Thank you for informing through XPRESS and noted the contents. In this regard, as a parent, please be informed that our School where my children are studying have already increased the Transportation charge from Dhs.300 to Dhs.340, i.e. the increase is Dhs.40.00 This is without considering the distance, The distance is hardly 13-14 KM i.e from International City to Garhoud, where most of the Schools are located. Last year, the same school increased charges through other ways i.e. Dhs.10-20 added with other miscellaneous expenses, but nothing has been increased in the Tuition Fee. Please don't publish my name.

    Joseph, Dubai, India

  3. Added 07:20 April 25, 2013

    SUNRISE ABU DHABI HIKED THE SCHOOL FEES, IS THIS APPROVED BY THE AUTHORITY, PLEASE CONFIRM.

    JAMES, ABU DHABI, India

  4. Added 23:26 April 24, 2013

    Salaam My name is Kashif my 4 Kids are studying in Gulf Asian English School Sharjah. School is increasing the Transport Fee every month in 2011 and 2012 school increased fees by Dh140 to 150 now 2012 to 2013 Dh150 to 180 which is almost 20% higher My building is not very far away from School. Beside this School is charging 150 dhs for ID cards and Dairy whose value is not more then 20 dhs. Also they have increased tuition fee this year. I request Ministry to take action if they did not allow school to increase the Transport fee thanks and regards,

    kashif, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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