A female bus attendant guides children as they get down from a bus. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Parents are being called on to stop the school run and let their children take the school bus.

School buses in Dubai adhere to the highest safety standards, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) says. As many as 131,000 pupils in Dubai use school buses daily, served by more than 5,000 buses.

According to the RTA, no school buses have been involved in any major accident over the past four years, adhering to the highest safety standards implemented by the authority. Consequently there haven’t been any casualties in the same period.

“Using buses is beneficial for everyone, including parents and children. Travelling by bus children are more likely to reach schools and home on time. There will be fewer traffic jams, which could result from parents using their personal cars, which will also mean there will be less pollution,” said Tareq Al Gaith, Director of Franchise and Monitoring at the RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

“The RTA is always searching for the best means that ensure the provision of security and safety for students as they constitute a major part of our responsibility. Therefore, we are working hard to set the stipulations and specifications for all components of school transport, such as the interior and chassis of buses, the driver, the school, the attendant as well as the inspector,” Al Gaith added.

The RTA is currently working on upgrading the specifications and regulations for school transport which were first issued in 2008.

Currently, all drivers and bus attendants are trained and approved through a special programme designed by global experts in school transport.

“We have specialist inspectors who regularly monitor the performance of buses by conducting regular tests on issues such as the testing and renewal of licences of buses, drivers and conductors and conducting daily field inspections regarding precise specifications in terms of bus security and safety,” he said.

As many as 5,600 drivers and 3,400 bus attendants have been trained and approved by the RTA over the past four years.

Last year the RTA announced that all school buses carrying female students and buses carrying boys up to primary school age must have female bus attendants. However, the rule hasn’t been fully implemented yet.

Most schools and transport operators have cited lack of availability of qualified female attendants as the main reason behind non-adherence.

The RTA has assured parents that it is working on robust recruitment plans with schools and transport operators.