EghtesadOnline: Concerns over students’ safety when using school commuter services have always overwhelmed parents as well as the people in charge, pushing both businesses and authorities toward introducing new mechanisms and prompting legislative and executive organizations to come up with an oversight system to tackle the problem.
Up until now, state organizations such as Tehran Taxi Organization, private companies, and in recent cases, ride-hailing services like Snapp and Tap30 have been used by families to send their kids to school.
The first plan initiated by the relevant officials is to run technical inspections of vehicles taking children to and from schools, removing substandard ones from the fleet, Financial Tribune reported.
Reportedly, arrangements are being made to remove a popular small city car produced by SAIPA, namely Pride, from the school transport fleet as the model fails to meet the required safety standards, director of Tehran Taxi Organization Alireza Qanadan was quoted as saying by ISNA.
“Since Pride has been the main vehicle for school transport in the past couple of years, removing it from the fleet cannot be done in an abrupt manner. This is something that needs to be done step by step; therefore, we have reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education to implement this plan by the next two or three years and in a phased manner,” he added.
Evaluating and Licensing
The Interior Ministry has also introduced a directive which requires the related businesses to exclusively employ drivers who have earned special permits for offering school transport services.
As per the directive, drivers are to be tested for mental and psychological health before being granted the special permit.
The new guideline cautions unlicensed drivers that they risk prosecution due to their illegal activities, with authorities promising parents that supervision and security measures will be redoubled.
“As per the Interior Ministry’s directive, all school transport service contractors are required to hand in the licenses issued by the related urban and rural municipalities to the TTO,” Qanadan said.
The organization has been charged with regulating school transport services in Tehran. Contractors and applicants are also required to register with TTO for offering such services.
In the current fiscal, which started on March 21, 16,000 vehicles have entered the school transport fleet, though many schools have violated regulations and hired unlicensed drivers, an issue that will be strictly dealt with in the future according to Qanadan.
He also mentioned that about 20,000 to 25,000 drivers are to enter the fleet in the coming year.
In Iran, school buses are very rare as minibuses and private taxi companies usually provide transport to school students.
Related authorities have introduced a couple of systems to keep track of students during their daily commute.
The first method put forward by the Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization was installing GPS devices on vehicles to monitor their location, movement and speed.
The second phase involved the introduction of an app notifying parents about the time the transport services arrive at home or school, also showing drivers’ pictures and profiles.
Kamyab Sadri, head of the Parents-Teachers Association said, “Last year, 37% of drivers offering such services installed the mobile application.” On a hopeful note, he assured that the remaining motorists will install the app in the coming months.
In the same vein, to offer some solace to concerned parents, a locally developed application dubbed ‘Tico’ enables parents in Tehran to monitor the private transport services their children use to and from school.
Parents can subscribe to the service for an annual fee of 150,000 rials ($3.5), wrote the company’s website.
Another benefit of using Tico is that parents can communicate with the drivers via the app. For instance, they can text the driver and cancel rides for a day.