Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced that it will deploy 368 “smart” buses to transport about 8873 students in 17 schools during the new academic year that begins in September.
The school service is operated by the RTA’s Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC).
The ‘environmental-friendly’ buses are fitted with safety and security features such as surveillance cameras that are connected to DTC’s Control Center to monitor students’ movement while sitting and alighting from buses.
New technologies have also been added to the school bus fleet, a statement said.
The engine switch off button is now located at the rear end of the bus behind the seats. So the driver is obliged to walk through up to the end of the bus to stop the engine, meanwhile ensuring that no student is left behind on the bus before the doors are locked.
The DTC has also launched a new smart app ‘DTC School Bus’ to enable parents to track the movement of their children’s journey from and to the school. A GPS satellite system will also send notifications to parents about the time their children board or alight from buses in their shuttle between schools and homes.
The school transport service was launched in the academic year 2015-2016 with 117 buses to serve eight schools, and the number grew in the following academic year (2016-2017) to 270 buses serving 14 schools.
In the last academic year (2017-2018), the fleet grew to 368 buses serving 17 schools and DTC is aiming to increase its fleet to 650 buses by 2024.
New schools can now join the service via the DTC School Bus app.
The RTA’s Public Transport Agency is also set to run the annual inspection service targeting school buses and service operators to verify their compliance with rules, including the licencing of drivers and supervisors, the statement said.
The most frequent offences reported in the past related to the technical specifications set by the RTA for the exterior and interior of school buses.
RTA director general and chairman Mattar Al Tayer said last year that there were more than 294,000 students and 59,22 buses in Dubai the last academic year.
The number of school buses is anticipated to rise to 7,600 by 2020 and 14,400 by 2030.