With the increase in fuel costs, several bus transport services in the UAE are trying to mitigate its impact on end-users, but few service providers are likely to increase the school bus fees from the new term.
This comes after Khaleej Times spoke to some private transport companies who said they are in talks with schools and are trying to take the hit of the rising fuel costs to whatever extent possible.
Steve Burnell, Managing Director School Transport Services (STS) group, says, “All businesses involved with transportation, including school bus services, have been affected by the recent global rise in fuel costs among other aspects of their operations. At STS Group, we continue to absorb the majority of these added costs and we will keep our families promptly informed of any changes in our fees.”
Another bus operator that provides transport services to 15 schools in Dubai, transporting around 3,000 students daily said they are trying to share the cost with the schools instead of burdening parents
Nausherwan Hussain, General Manager, Arab Falcon Bus Rentals LLC says, “Fuel cost is one of the major costs in our operations. Fuel prices today are almost double as compared to September 2021. Therefore, our operational cost has increased due to increased fuel price.”
He adds, “We are discussing with our schools and want to keep the impact of high fuel prices to a minimum for our parent community.”
Meanwhile, many UAE schools have requested their respective education regulators to revise the transportation costs when schools reopen in September.
Institutions are considering whether to pass on higher transportation charges to parents as the price of petrol and diesel rise in the country.
Abhilasha Singh, Principal, Shining Star International, Abu Dhabi, says, “Due to the continuous rise in fuel prices, we are left with no option but to put in a request with Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) to increase the bus fees. Otherwise, it will be a huge additional expenditure for the school, with us running into losses. But nothing can be done in the middle of the academic year as we are a CBSE school and have started our session already. All requests related to increase in transportation fees must be approved by the emirate’s education regulator.
She adds, “So we are still waiting for an approval from the regulatory authorities. I hope Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) and Department of Transport Abu Dhabi (DoT) will support us.”
Punit MK Vasu, CEO, The Indian High Group of Schools averred, “We are constantly reviewing the situation of increasing fuel costs and have set up a special committee within our group to review the possibilities of alternative and sustainable fuels such as biofuels in the long run.
“We also think that the current fuel prices provided an excellent opportunity for the relevant regulatory authorities to look at the possibilities and options of opening the sector to electric buses operating within the UAE. We will take an informed decision of transport fees in September depending on the situation at that point in time.”
Some parents are weighing their options anticipating transportation fee hikes, while others say they see no other alternatives.
Sharjah resident Nisreen says, “The increase in fuel price and other things is worrisome. While we are hoping that the school transportation do not increase the fee any further, there is very little hope. If they do, we will have to opt out of the transport and do a pick and drop on our own — it will prove to be more reasonable.”
Another parent Khadija says, “My two children take the school bus. For us, the bus fees per year will go up by Dh400 to Dh600 collectively. The school transportation takes up a huge chunk of our budget as it is already on the higher side. This hike means an additional cost. But we don’t have any other option as both I and my husband are working.”
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