Transport authorities have promised safety to thousands of school children when they board school buses on the very first day of the 2015-2016 academic year that starts from September.
The Smart System - launched by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) and Emirates Transport - has three electronic systems fitted in school buses for student safety.
In the first system, the number of students boarding a bus will be counted electronically (e-Counting) and it will accurately determine the number of students in the bus.
The second system includes the bus-checking (e-Inspection) system for which the driver has to walk to the end of the bus to press a button, therefore crossing each and every single seat to check if any student is left behind. The third is a motion detecting system - a sensor that detects any movement inside the bus at the time when the bus engine is shut down at the end of the journey, providing an alert message to the driver in case any child is still on the bus.
The system will provide safe bus transportation steps for 1,300 kindergarten and Cycle 1 school students.
Adec Director-General Dr Amal Al-Qubaisi said the safety of students during their journey to and from school is a joint-responsibility of all parties concerned to achieve a maximum degree of security and safety for school students.
She added that apart from the bus driver and bus supervisors' role to take care of the children, the main aim behind launching the Smart System was to include "extra" security through a fully equipped bus that guarantees continuous monitoring of children inside the bus and while boarding the bus.
"Today, while we launch this new world-class system ...we cannot help but recall those children who met with accidents during their daily trips to and from schools, during which some of them were injured while two girls passed away. We pray for these children and for their families who we hope are blessed with patience and fortitude," said Dr Al Qubaisi.
On October 7, 2014, three-year-old Nizha Aalaa died after allegedly falling asleep and being locked for nearly six hours inside her school bus.
She added: "Increasing bus efficiency and the provision of safe and comfortable seats for all students will help reduce traffic congestion and fuel consumption, in addition to encouraging the use of public transport for school children, thus preserving the eco-system."
Also, as per the discussions between Adec and Emirates Transport, the latter is required to provide 100 new buses for Abu Dhabi public schools among which 26 buses should be equipped to transport students with kinetic disabilities. According to the contract, an additional 72 buses will be required for the new academic year due to the growing number of schoolchildren.
Al-Qubaisi stressed on Adec's commitment to exert efforts to ensure highest level of security and safety for students and that it aims to prevent the occurrence of any accidents. She called on all individuals and institutions to act with zeal and determination to maintain the UAE's security and stability.
On his part, Mohammed Abdullah Al Jarman, General Manager of Emirates Transport Foundation, stressed that the foundation is keen to provide the best it can in order to maintain the safety of students and school buses.
He affirmed that the Smart System inside the buses shall provide practical solutions to avoid leaving students inside a school bus, to spot their movements and use of school buses, check their disembarking and recognizing each student inside the bus. The new technology will help keep students safe, he added.
Trial run of 'smart' buses
Al Jarman pointed out that the bus drivers have been trained (before the start of the new academic year) by plying the buses on their routes without students. The new drivers and supervisors were oriented with all geographical areas where they will work, in addition to coordination meetings held with schools about the distribution process in accordance to residential areas.
Growth of school transportation
Al Jarman announced that with the start of the current school year, and through our partnership with Adec, 2,090 buses with the capacity of 137,000 seats will be provided. These will provide transportation to 98,000 students daily from and to 254 public schools, via 63,900 assembly point across 3,056 regular routes across Abu Dhabi. The number of bus drivers is 2,027 while bus supervisors stand at 2,439 out of whom 78 per cent are Emiratis.
Training is provided to bus drivers and supervisors through Emirates Transport Centre for training. Moreover, 4,100 observation and monitoring visits were conducted by transportation coordinators and 770 communication visits with school administrations across the emirate.
Adec and Emirates Transport have developed a plan to raise awareness among different school transport operations to enhance safety and security elements. The plan targets several categories: school administrators, students, parents, and all society segments, so that there are 0% school transportation accidents.
Both parties stated that they will implement a public media campaign throughout the academic school year, with focus on four major objectives: (1) promotion of community partnership with media channels (2) raising social awareness on the importance of school transport services (3) standardisation of media messages and (4) highlighting security levels in school buses. –End-
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