- The recently launched Rural Safe School Bus Programme, in the parish of Clarendon, is receiving praise for enabling students to arrive at school on time.
- The buses transport some 3,500 students daily, with strict discipline being maintained on the units.
- This is a partnership among the Transport Authority (TA), Clarendon Parish Council, Ministry of Education, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and the schools.
The recently launched Rural Safe School Bus Programme, in the parish of Clarendon, is receiving praise for enabling students to arrive at school on time.
The buses transport some 3,500 students daily, with strict discipline being maintained on the units. This is a partnership among the Transport Authority (TA), Clarendon Parish Council, Ministry of Education, Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and the schools.
“We do appreciate the bus, because first and foremost, it’s very safe and we have never been exposed to anything as safe as this. We get to school on time and it costs less and it’s very comfortable… we thank the Government for putting this service in place for us,” says student at Vere Technical High School, Shauna Lee Chung, in an interview with JIS News.
Student at Garvey Maceo High, Victoria Edmundson, says that in the past, students would normally arrive at school very late, as the buses did not have any specific time to pick them up.
“I was really annoyed by the music…now I can go to school in fine style and comfort. I really appreciate it, because I live very far and it usually cost me $400 per day, now it costs $300,” she says.
Another student, Migual Edwards, who is enrolled at Vere Technical, welcomes the new transport system. “It’s truly a pleasure to have the bus system…it’s very economical for parents that have low incomes, as the fare is reduced. Students also get an opportunity to interact with students from other schools on the buses,” he tells JIS News.
For his part, Council President for Vere Technical High, Tevin Allen, says: “I truly do welcome this new rural school bus system that they have put in place, and I do believe that it says a lot. The nation is thinking about students’ security and safety travelling to and from school.”
Principal at Denbigh High School, Kasan Troupe, says she is pleased with the manner in which the safe school bus programme transports children.
“At times I was very concerned when we (saw) the bus drivers on the road. That doesn’t exist anymore…we feel assured that our students will come ready for learning. When you see them (students) embarking and disembarking the buses, it is a joy and pleasure for me as a Principal, to welcome them into the school on time, and send them off to classes,” Mrs. Troupe tells JIS News.
Also welcoming the new transportation system is Principal at Garvey Maceo, Erica Eubanks.
“It is a breath of fresh air for us, as our students can now travel in comfort. We really appreciate the move,” she says.
For vehicles to be part of the programme, they must meet specifications laid down by the TA. They also have to be approved by a Motor Vehicle Inspector of the Island Traffic Authority (ITA).
Drivers assigned to the system must be holders of a valid driver’s licence, which permit them to operate public transport vehicles, and must also be trained and certified under the TA/HEART driver training programme.
The drivers must maintain a registry of all students who travel on the buses, the names of the schools, and the communities which they serve. They must wear navy blue pants and white shirts with the logo – ‘School Bus Service’ – affixed.
“It is a standard driven programme, and we will do everything to ensure that the standards are maintained. Any operator that fails to maintain the standards will not be in the programme,” says Managing Director of the TA, Donald Foster.
Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Morais Guy, says the new system is a “move by the Government, which recognizes that education is an important aspect of the development of the nation.”
“Let this programme continue, and let it be a success, as we endevour to make the lives of our people easier, and more productive,” Dr. Guy says.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, who is also Member Parliament for South West Clarendon, says the programme will benefit students and teachers.
“It will certainly make a difference in the lives of students, teachers and parents. It will bring discipline and order to what we have. It is a model, and we will ensure that we have a well disciplined and efficient service,” Mr. Arscott tells JIS News.