Dubai: Taxis to send kids to school; why some parents are ditching the bus for cab – ZAWYA

Iraqi expat in Dubai Arash Hazaq used to pay Dh800 per month for his son’s home-to-school commute. The expat’s 15-year-old spent more than one-and-a-half hours on the school bus for the 7km journey.
Fed up of the “exorbitant” rate and the long commute, Hazaq has now opted for a dedicated taxi service called School Rides that’s run by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Careem.
"I have been very happy with the service. Since we live in Satwa and my son's school is in Al Quoz, I feel it's a better idea to use the School Rides service. My son not only saves around one- and-a-half hours of travel time during each trip, but it is also cost-effective,” the expat told Khaleej Times.
Packages for 40 rides start at Dh500 and have a 90-day validity. The cost goes up according to the distance. Hazaq’s package cost him Dh1,300, “which I can use for pickups or drops”.
But the service is not just for school students. Briton Umar Osman moved to Dubai from the UK in August to study at Middlesex University.
“Initially, I was a bit worried about … commuting. But with this service, I pay Dh2,000 for 40 rides. I would have had to pay Dh60 each way otherwise. It not only saves me money but offers flexibility,” said the resident of the Mira community in Al Qudra.
The school transportation service is offered via the Careem app. According to Adel Shakri, director of Planning and Business Development at the RTA’s Public Transport Agency, the service has engaged over 1,150 parents since it was rolled out in April 2023.
The official called it a “cost-effective alternative school transport” option which ensures “shorter travel times” for students.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Antonio Al Asmar, general manager of Careem in the GCC, said over 50,000 school rides have been completed, with “average savings of 35 per cent per user”.
Rates are based on the distance between the school and home. 40-ride packages start at Dh500 for a 2km range; and Dh600 for 4km. Mid-range packages start from Dh1,300 for 10-12km distance; while the large range ones (30km+) cost Dh4,750.
“This per-ride structure offers considerable savings, as parents are not charged for transport during public holidays or term breaks and packages are not subject to surge-pricing,” said Al Asmar.
No additional charges apply if up to three children travel in the same ride.
“This feature unlocks substantial savings for parents compared to the traditional school bus system. With the ability to accommodate up to three passengers per ride, parents can purchase a single package instead of paying transport fees for each child. This benefit is particularly advantageous for households with multiple children attending the same school or children from the same building travelling together.”
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