Safe School bus programme - ensuring students' safety
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
September 2014 saw the Clarendon Parish Council and the Transport Authority embarking on the implementation of a safe school bus system - a pilot project organised for the town of May Pen.
With accusations rife concerning stories of improper behaviour between conductors and drivers and schoolgirls, the Rural Safe School Bus programme was the answer to parents' prayers.
Commenting on the Transport Authority initiative, which was conceptualised long before it was rolled out in 2013, communication manager Petra-Keene Williams said the Transport Authority developed standards for the operations of vehicles licensed to provide transportation for schoolchildren in Jamaica.
"The formulation of these standards was part of the authority's thrust to facilitate the provision of satisfactory transportation services by licensing vehicles that are safe, reliable and efficient for the transportation of students and are intended to ensure that the operation of these vehicles is done with the highest safety standards possible to ensure the well-being of student passengers," she told The Gleaner.
The project was first introduced and implemented in Portmore, St Catherine through a public-private partnership with the St Catherine School Transportation Association.
Clarendon's introduction to the programme was brought about at the invitation of the parish council to participate in a community outreach project that would see to the implementation of a school transportation system for the parish.
The authority deepened the partnership with the Clarendon Parish Council in February 2014 to develop and guide the implementation of a school bus service for the parish of Clarendon which resulted in the implementation of a pilot programme in May Pen for three schools Glenmuir, Foga Road and Denbigh High.
According to Williams, since the programme's implementation there has been great feedback from school administrators and students.
"Based on local support for the initiative, the programme was expanded to south Clarendon catering to four schools Vere Technical, Garvey Maceo, Bustamante and Kemps Hill High in February.
Approximately 3,500 students are benefiting from the programme.
Among the challenges being experienced with the programme are the late arrival of students at the terminal, lack of bus stops and inconsistency in service delivery among operators.
Williams said several strategies are now being employed to deal with these concerns.
"Meetings have been held with the student leadership of all the schools to encourage their peers to be punctual. School administrators have assigned teachers to monitor student usage of the vehicles and a special committee is being formed to identify local businesses willing to sponsor the erection of bus sheds and signs," Williams said.