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Private schools push back over bus regulations

By Renad Aljadid - Aug 09,2018 - Last updated at Aug 09,2018

AMMAN — The recent Land Transport Regulatory Commission's (LTRC) decision on the write-off of 20-year-old public transport busses has "aggravated the anger" of private school owners, who said the decision will harm their sector and increase the costs on students and their parents.

"The commission says they want to ensure public safety, while they give no consideration to economic safety and the family spending," Private School Owners Association President Munther Sourani told The Jordan Times on Thursday. 

He said that school buses are operated for no longer than 190 days a year and they run distances that do not exceed 60 kilometres a day, unlike public buses that are operated through the year and around the clock, stressing "it is unfair to put both sectors on equal footing".

"We demand the extension of the school buses operational age to 30 years, suspending their operation only upon technical checkup, and the write-off of the vehicle body only but not its customs licence," he stated.

Sourni noted that, sometimes, owners buy the bus but it is not operated for some years, so "their age does not necessarily reflect their condition".

"Each bus costs around JD50,000, so, when we dispose of an old but well-operating bus and buy a new one, the total cost on owners will be JD100,000," Sourni explained, noting: "The decision will now affect a total of 1076 school buses, with a similar or increasing number every year." 

He said meetings have been over the matter dozens of times, but "nobody listens".

Abla Weshah, LTRC director of the media and communications department, responded that the commission is taking into consideration a five-year difference in the operation age between school and public transport buses, explaining that the decision's main priority is to ensure students' safety and to offer a public transport fleet that grants citizens "comfortable and safe rides".

He said the maintenance costs of old vehicles over the long term might be even pricier than buying new ones. "The decision will also have a positive impact on the city environment, as the disposal of old vehicles will decrease their harmful gas emissions," she told The Jordan Times.

The LTRC official also expressed hopes that the association's suggestion on the vehicles customs will be further discussed.

Meanwhile, students' parents voiced mixed reactions over the matter.

Muna Ismael, a mother of two residing in west Amman, said: "Our children ride the old buses with torn seats and without ACs for a long time, so I wouldn't mind paying some extra fees in return for a better service."

Abu Yousef, another parent told The Jordan Times: "We are not going to pay any single extra penny,” voicing concerns that school owners might exploit the decision to collect more money from parents without offering real improvements to the service.

"We already pay a lot and our children have the right to high-quality buses that are no older than 20 years, but we are not going to bear the entire burden instead of the school," he stated.

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