Driving to work was a breeze today that I wish it’s like this every single day. I usually take the train but today I drove to work because I know the roads are free. My commute was only 15 minutes. On ‘normal’ days, it could reach up to 45 minutes (that’s why I gave up the car and choose the train). With the Eid holidays coming up, schools are closed and so are government offices.
And in the news this morning: Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) asks parents to STOP the school run.
What is a school run?
School run is a term used when parents drive their children to or from school.
And so many parents are doing it here in Dubai.
So naturally, when it’s school time, commuters need to get out of the house earlier than usual as the roads are really busy with bumper to bumper traffic. I see so many cars driven by parents with one child in it so just imagine on a normal school day, these vehicles doing the school run clog Dubai’s roads. I can understand RTA’s request to stop the school run and support collective transport which will ease traffic (it’s more environment friendly, too).
Everyone has their share of reasons for not using the bus, the most common of which is that some parents feel the school buses are not safe enough. But the RTA insists that these school buses are safe and that there have not been any accidents involving school buses over the last three years as they have implemented strict safety specifications.
Next, school bus fees are very expensive and it can get more expensive if you have say like, 2 or more kids. Oh, yes.
Our experience with the school bus
We had been using the school bus for the past seven years without any issue on the safety of our child. The children are with seat belts and there’s one female bus assistant to take care of children’s needs inside the bus.
However, there are two issues we have of using the bus:
- The fee which is not cheap (for us) at AED5,500/year (US$1,500) but no choice since both of us are working and even if we can drop our daughter off to school in the morning, we can’t pick her up after school.
- Another issue is the pick up time. Since the bus needs to go around to pick up other children, they need to start early – they are competing with the school run vehicles, remember? We live only 3 kilometers away from the school but Pristine’s pickup time is 6:20 am. Classes start at 7:45.
I’ve read so many horror stories about school runs everywhere, on Twitter, Facebook or direct from moms who do it: from aggressive parents fighting for a spot closest to the school gate, insufficient parking space, parents parking in the non-designated places, rude behavior of some parents, children being dropped off without properly parking the car, mom fashions irritating other moms (true story LOL), etc.
I believe that this school run and traffic problem can be solved only if the RTA takes control of the operation of these buses – implement a fair and affordable bus fee (some buses have overly inflated fees in the ‘new Dubai’ schools just because they know the parents can afford it!), train the drivers and ensure the vehicles adhere to safety standards, more parents will be confident enough to give up the school run so there is less traffic and pollution.