Safety comes first for school bus drivers

If drivers go over the speed limit within the city, the central office would know and they are quickly reprimanded. On the highway, drivers can not exceed 80 km/h, as that is the fastest their bus can travel.
Muneer Hussain, with the Bright Bus Transport, follows a strict checklist daily to ensure the safety of his vehicle. Delores Johnson / The National
Muneer Hussain, with the Bright Bus Transport, follows a strict checklist daily to ensure the safety of his vehicle. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // Nothing is more important to Muneer Hussain than the safety of his 20 young passengers.

Mr Hussain begins his day at the break of dawn inspecting his bus inside and out. “I check everything,” says the 32-year-old Pakistani driver for the pupils of Gems American Academy. “I check to see if everything is OK outside – tyres, body – and then I go inside. I check seats, seat belts, then engine oil and water, brake fluid, everything I check.”

Mr Hussain, a father of three young children who live with their mother in Pakistan, follows a strict checklist daily to ensure the safety of his vehicle. The drill is part of the Bright Bus Transport’s standard operating procedures.

By 6am, Mr Hussain is on the road. The first passenger he picks up is his female attendant who helps maintain order and ensure the pupils’ comfort and safety during the one-hour journey.

Along the way, he makes seven stops, picking up 20 pupils. As each pupil enters the bus, their especially issued ID card is scanned.

Everyone who rides in Mr Hussain’s bus is monitored from the time they get on to the time they alight – including himself and his attendant. Bright Bus Transport’s central office in Dubai monitors every aspect of its buses using GPS, seven cameras and the ID scanning system. If Mr Hussain drives over the speed limit, the central office knows and he would be quickly reprimanded. On the motorway, he cannot exceed 80kmh, the fastest his bus can travel.

Bright Bus Transport hires drivers with a minimum of two years driving experience in the UAE. Mr Hussain had six years’ experience when he was hired last year. He had previously worked as a taxi driver, a job he’s not sorry to leave behind. He takes comforts in the stringent rules of his new job.

“In my company, I have so many rules and also I have an inspector, a team leader and a control room,” he says. “We cannot do any wrong. We cannot drive at the wrong speed, we cannot change into the wrong lane. That’s why we drive safely all the time. “In a taxi you drive, drive, drive, drive, all the time. That is not good,” says Mr Hussain. “Here, it’s OK because only in the mornings do I pick up the kids and drop them off, then I do the same in the afternoon. After that I don’t work. So, I like that. It’s easy. Here the rules are very clear.”

Mr Hussain is paid Dh3,000 a month, but he’s not complaining. He has company housing and gets two months’ holiday every year, in addition to a two-week break in December. For the first time in years, he has two days off at the weekend.

“I have a rest,” he said.

rpennington@thenational.ae

Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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