Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Several Abu Dhabi schools halt bus services after mix up

Some pupils waited for hours to be taken home on the first day of term

Emirates Transport, which operates many of the country's school buses, had route and scheduling problems on the first day back to school in Abu Dhabi.
Emirates Transport, which operates many of the country's school buses, had route and scheduling problems on the first day back to school in Abu Dhabi.

Bus services at three Abu Dhabi schools were suspended after hundreds of pupils endured collection and drop-off problems on the first day of term.

Pupils at Al Yasmina, West Yas and Al Muna academies will not be collected by the bus service for the rest of the week.

Hundreds of children attending Aldar Academies faced lengthy delays as new drivers took wrong routes and collection timetables became confused.

Some children waited hours to be taken home, parents and teachers said.

"As always, the safety of our pupils comes first," said David Taylor, director of operations of Aldar Education.

We have taken the decision to suspend our school bus operations in these three schools for the remainder of this week

David Taylor, Aldar Education

"I appreciate that some families will have been affected by the disruptions, and would like to thank them for their support and understanding.

"We want to reassure all parents that our priority is the safe and prompt passage of our students to and from the classroom."

The new operator, Emirates Transport, has been given time to correct the issues.

Transport services are understood to have been overbooked for the first week of the new school term, with the fleet of buses unable to cope with demand. Other issues included poor communication among logistics teams.

About 6,500 pupils attend the seven academies run by Aldar Education in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, with safe transport to and from the classroom being a vital aspect of daily operations.

Staff will check children on and off buses at other schools this week as an extra safety precaution to the existing registers used by the service operator.

New drivers undertook dummy runs on bus routes at the weekend.

The schools expanded provided extra-curricular activities for those children whose parents are unable to collect them until 4pm.

A full bus service is expected to resume next week.

"To ensure that our school bus partner meets Aldar Education's high service standards, we have taken the decision to suspend our school bus operations in these three schools for the remainder of this week," Mr Taylor said.

"We have arranged for supervision by our teachers at those schools impacted by this decision.

"All our other schools will operate as usual."

In a statement, Emirates Transport said new routes, timing changes, late registrations and subscription problems contributed to the delays.

“We would like to express deep regrets and offer apologies for the reported delays that occurred on Sunday during school transport operations in Abu Dhabi,” a spokesperson said.

“A tremendous amount of work was undertaken to prepare for the new school year and, in particular, the new services provided to Aldar Academies.”

Emirates Transport has been providing bus services in the UAE for 40 years.

The company said it was working to make improvements to the bus service to ensure similar problems are not repeated in future.

Operations are expected to continue from Sunday, September 8.

“Despite our best efforts for smooth first day school operations, some hitches are always expected,” the spokesperson said.

“We are currently working closely with our partners at Aldar Academies to ensure delivery of school transport operations of the highest safety and quality standards.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank both students and their parents for their understanding and patience and promise to do our best to ensure their full satisfaction.”

Updated: September 4, 2019 10:28 AM

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