x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bus drivers appeal for patience if late

School children have been forced to miss lessons as bus operators blame petrol station queues.

ABU DHABI // School bus drivers appealed to parents yesterday to be patient if they arrive late in the morning to pick up their children during the first days of the new term. They blamed rush hour traffic jams and long queues at petrol stations for any delays. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, the transport supervisor for Abu Dhabi's Rosary School, said drivers faced similar problems at the beginning of each school year as they struggled to judge how long trips would take.

"It takes a few days to estimate the best timing to pick up students," he said. "For example, on the first day of school we try to release the buses by 7.15am, second day we try 7.10am. We don't want the students to arrive too early to school." Mr Abdul-Rauf said delays were expected at this time of year as parents on the school run added to the rush hour traffic congestion. Long queues at petrol stations were also a problem this year.

Waleed al Muhairi, the manager of the Abu Dhabi branch of Emirates Transport, questioned the claim, however, saying Adnoc had dedicated six stations for school buses after an agreement between the two companies. Two stations are located in the capital, two in Shahama, one in Mussafah and another in Bani Yas. He added that he had received no complaints from parents about late-running buses. Dr Khalid al Ibry, the head of educational affairs in Abu Dhabi educational zone, admitted there had been a few complaints but that many of the problems were down to inaccurate pick-up points given by parents.

Moustafa Noor, a Rosary School bus driver, said drivers usually filled up before they picked up the pupils or after they dropped them off in the afternoon. Mr Noor said from now on he was going to fill up at the Adnoc station opposite Al-Falah Plaza at 6.15am, an hour before picking up the students to avoid being late. Another driver, Abdulrazaq Abu Baker, said he was grateful that only school and Al Ghazal Transport buses were allowed to fill up at the petrol station opposite Madinat Zayed on Muroor road, as he had not faced any queues yesterday. While school buses are not facing any congestion at the Al-Falah Plaza and Madinat Zayed stations, those filling up outside the capital continue to suffer. "When I went to fill diesel in Bani Yas on the road to Al Ain last week I had to wait for a long time," said Akram Khan, another bus driver. "Today I went to the station in front of Falah Plaza and it was clear." While many of Rosary School pupils who use school buses said they usually arrived on time, Lena Hashem, a fourth grade student, said her bus was regularly arriving late. "I miss my first lesson," she said. Lena's mother Ikram Abdul Kareem was about to check with the school yesterday why her three children had been more than an hour late for classes. "We've always had a problem with this driver," she said. "He picks up the children early, yet they never arrive to school on time." she said. "He never gave us a reason, nor did the school." hdajani@thenational.ae