The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTAhas warned schools and transport companies not to use the new bus regulations as a pretext to increase their transport fees. "Schools and school transport companies must not exploit the new school transport regulations to make individual financial gains as the amount required to modify a bus, to bring it in line with the specifications set by the RTA, is not hefty," Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dossary, CEO of the RTA's Public Transport Agency, said.
Al Dossary also urged the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which controls schools in the emirate, to play a more active role in controlling such practices on part of the schools and the school transport companies.
The majority of the schools in Dubai have announced a transport fee hike from 60 to 100 per cent with effect from the next academic year starting in September, with the pretext that the new school bus regulations set up by the RTA would cost them a lot to modify buses to meet the set standards.
The RTA had last year launched the School Transport Regulations Manual making it compulsory for schools and the school transport companies to implement the required technical specifications, and the rules endorsed by Dubai Executive Council for the safety of school children.
After receiving complaints about the exorbitant hike in the school transport costs, Al Dossary held a meeting with Fatma Al Merri, CEO of KHDA Schools Agency to discuss the matter. Al Dossary said schools are exploiting the new bus transport safety regulations to increase the fee and it is unjustified.
"The amount that needs to upgrade a school bus to meet the requirements of the new rules ranges from Dhs8,000 to Dhs15,000 depending on the size and condition of the bus. This amount is a one-time investment to be made by the school if it owns the school bus, or by school transport companies," he noted.
He said it would be reasonable if the fee increase per pupil was assessed in the range of Dhs250 to Dhs500 maximum and for one time only. "We urge KHDA to look into the matter," he said.
Al Merri said: "We, at KHDA, are making our level best to support the efforts of RTA in implementing School Transport Regulations in the emirate as it provides crucial support to the educational drive towards realising its academic and social objectives, and helping pupils succeed in their studies."
Meanwhile, school and private transportation providers said transport fee increases are imperative to sustain the transportation service.