Dubai’s RTA says, “let the children take the school bus”

school bus dubai

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.

Top photo credit

Are you a parent in Dubai? Do your kids use the school bus or do you do the school run?


  1. My KG 2 pick up time is 6:10 am and she’s back by 12:30 pm. We’re looking at other schools though for next year as her school bus driver/attendants do not take care of the kids unlike other schools’ buses that are picking and dropping off kids in our building. When the bus arrives, I see kids standing on the seats. The male (!) attendant does not assist the and the bus is going while kids are still walking the aisle and haven’t seated yet. He just sits on his seat! Needless to say, the kids are not wearing seat belts if any are there in the bus.

    One time daughter arrived crying and bleeding with gashes at her knees and hands. It seems she was pushed and she fell down while going to the bus. Yet, the attendant handed her to us, just like that! Fortunately husband was there and after getting her checked in hospital emergency (as we don’t know what exactly happened), he went to the Principal with the photos of her injuries to complain. And yet, still, these drivers and attendants still don’t care!



  2. We’ve transferred our son to a nearby school so pickup time is at 6:50am now, still early but better than 6:20 in the previous school.

    Our son’s school transport is handled by STS, and I appreciate the process they have:

    – bus driver and the assistants are nice, I think they are expected to perform as that,
    – attendance is logged as kids go in and step out of the bus (kind of using a bar-code device)
    – advises/ memo-s are sent out by email. Performance surveys are sometimes sent.
    – we can pay online

    These were quite different from my son’s previous school bus, add to that they were too crowded at three kids in each seat.

    Btw, I too find the AED 5500 to be not cheap for a 3km radius.



    1. >> Btw, I too find the AED 5500 to be not cheap for a 3km radius.
      YES, definitely but the parents at ‘new Dubai’ are being charged AED8,000+ for the same distance just because these schools and bus companies know they can afford it. Disgusting!

      I am glad your pickup time is better than before although still too early. And that the school transport is doing it properly to give parents a peace of mind.



  3. Mine will start in a few days and we plan on doing the school runs only because I’m afraid of the safety aspect….I don’t know how they can say accident-free for three years when just recently some kid died on the school bus because he fell asleep in the back and the driver didn’t even check after his stops were done. He just parked the car and left. So yeah I get worried especially at this age. Perhaps when they’re older…say like 6 or 7, then we might do the bus thing. I used the bus all my school life so I don’t see anything wrong about it…just safety wise it scares me. And yeah fees suck too lol



  4. My 2 monkeys used to take the schoolbus, but we stopped using the service. It was too expensive and the kids were the last off the bus. They would get back so exhausted. We also had another problem, they were getting picked on by bullies on the bus. There was a ‘bus-nanny’, but like with most nannies/maids in Dubai, the children didn’t listen to her or respect her. Sad, but true! We felt this was not a safe and socially-healthy environment for our children, so I’m now back on the school run with happy rested children.



    1. Bullies in the bus are the worst! Glad you got them out and they are better off now with you driving them to school and back. We parents will do what is best for our children.



  5. I believe Dubai is a great place for parents to settle and bring up their children in. The surroundings are clean and nice, and the schools offer high quality education.

    I personally know a lot of parents, though, who are still hesitant to have their children ride the school bus because they cannot be 100% certain that it’s safe. They feel better knowing that they are in better control when they drive their own cars to bring kids to school. At least there seems to be a lower chance of accidents and mishaps this way.

    Anyway, if RTA will make such a request, yes it would be good for the environment and will surely ease traffic. However, they ought to know that the number one concern of parents is safety. They need to do the necessary training and preparations first for these buses as well as the safety protocols and procedures to assure parents that the kids will be safe.



    1. Hi Katie,

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

      I agree that it would be better if the RTA takes control of the school bus situation by introducing more reasonable fees and training drivers to conform to safety regulations.

      All parents seek the best for their child/children that is why some drive them to school everyday. However, there are times when I see parents cutting through traffic like a mad man because his/her child is running late (because of traffic, situation at home, etc). Then there are a LOT of parents misbehaving at the school parking lot by not parking properly when they drop their children, fighting with other parents for a parking spot, etc. It’s mayhem in the morning and during pickup time.

      Most moms I know who do the school run dreads it and wish they could afford the bus or at least be confident enough to let their children use it. This should be a call for RTA to take action.



  6. Dubai is a great place to Work in the UAE and great place for tourism and is famous world over. The primary activity of the tourists is shopping but there are also other modern and ancient attractions in Dubai which are a tempting factor for the tourists to visit this place.



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