Schools have reopened for the shortest term in the academic calendar and one of the problems I have seen parents grapple with is how to get the best school transport for their kids.
The issue of transport is often a no brainer for some who are comfortable with the means their children are using at the moment. I have, however, seen parents on social media platforms asking for the best means of transport for their children, which means it is an urgent matter to them and they need help.
These parents have varied reasons why their current means of transport is not working for them anymore. For instance, some parents have just transferred their children to other schools that do not have official school buses.
In some cases, the official school bus does not go to some estates and only reach a certain point, this normally happens in high schools where students are picked and dropped at a certain point and have to make their way to their homes.
There are those who are not satisfied by the transport services offered by their schools and would like to try something else to see if it will work for them. There is also the issue of cost where a parent feels that the transport charges by their school are too exorbitant and want something that is more pocket-friendly.
There are different means of transport for kids and before you make a choice you have to consider certain factors and safety of the kids is the most important consideration.
According to the chairperson of the Road Safety Alliance-Kenya, Bright Oywaya, Kenya loses between 300 and 400 children through accidents to and from school every year. In an opinion piece in the Daily Nation, she said most of these children were unaccompanied.
Before choosing your mode of transport, you should also consider the fact that kids have short attention spans and can get easily distracted. There have been instances of kids being kidnapped for ransom or getting raped. You should, therefore, ensure that their safety comes first.
Below are some of the means your child can use,
1. Official school bus
This is the bus that is provided by the school to ferry their children to and from home every day for a certain fee. The charges can either be included in the fee or you might be charged separately.
• One of the merits of going for the official school bus is that it teaches kids time management. School buses often operate on definite and strict time schedules and this means that the kids have to learn to prepare very early for the bus to avoid missing it altogether.
• There is also the issue of safety where they are driven by chosen professionals to their homes, thereby decreasing the possibility of them getting into accidents. There is also accountability where you know who to ask if something happens to your child.
• Some schools have very reasonable charges for their transport services and you will not feel the pinch as they go to school as compared to other means of transport. There are instances where you may not have money during the month or during the term but since you had already paid your child will not be inconvenienced in any way.
• School buses are also very convenient because the child is picked and dropped near the home so you do not have to walk long distances for it. It is also convenient during the rainy season as the child will not have to be subjected to a wet morning or evening as they wait for their means of transport to school.
• Your child will also make friends on the bus as they interact with other children from their school.
• Most schools ensure that they insurance and this good for when accident happen
• The school has all your contacts in case anything happens on the road.
• It is not uncommon to see a school bus with a capacity of 30 children carrying 60 children plus a certain number of teachers. This is not only dangerous for all involved, but it is also quite uncomfortable and illegal.
• Some schools also neglect their buses and do not install the correct safety features to ensure that their children are safe. A case in point is the six- year old boy from St Augustine Primary School in Mombasa. The young boy died after going through the damaged floor of the bus and being crushed by the bus.
• Some schools do not hire qualified drivers and this can be dangerous to the safety of the child.
2. Privately owned school transport services
Privately owned school transport services keep mushrooming by the day and they range from saloon cars to mini buses and large buses. These buses are run by individuals who ferry children to various schools in the city. They have clients from various schools and weave their way around a certain place with several schools.
• Offer cheaper services as compared to those that are offered by most schools
• They are also convenient because they pick and drop kids at the door step
• Your child will get to interact with kids from other schools
• Your child can still use it even if you transfer them from one school to another
• Ideal for kids in good schools that do not own official school buses. Most public schools do not have school buses and yet some of their kids come from far or are too young to walk long distances.
• Just as with official school buses, these privately owned buses often carry more kids than they should carry.
• It can be difficult o know if they have adhered to the legal demands and if they are insured. You should check into these issues before committing to using the services.
• It is not easy to trust just any Tom, Dick and Harry with a bus in these days of pedophiles and kidnappers.
• Can be unreliable because some are unable to get enough kids and the business can go under any time unlike with the official school bus which is established.
Carpooling is ideal for parents who may have children in the same school and live in the same estate. They can meet and discuss on how they can be taking turns to take their children to school. This concept requires a lot of team effort from the parents involved. All players involved will also need to be respectful, a good plan, reliability, respect and commitment to safety.
The group of parents should also come up with the ideal pick up and drop off times, driving route, contingency plans in case of sudden changes in the schedules occasioned by social and work commitments.
They should also discuss emergency procedures and contacts which will be distributed to all parties involved. The group should also discuss their lateness policy where they will agree on how many minutes they can wait for the latecomers before leaving.
• Carpooling helps you save money that you would have paid at the school or to privately owned services and that is music to the ears of any parent.
• Your kids will also get to socialize and interact with other kids at home and at school, thereby helping them to make and keep
• It is very convenient for both the parents and the kids because they are dropped and picked at the doorstep.
• You will always be sure that your kids are in safe hands unlike with other modes of transport.
• Most parents are responsible and have insured their cars. They will also not carry more than the capacity that the car can handle. This will help ensure the safety of your child.
• It can be quite inconveniencing if it is your turn to drive kids to school.
• Children can get late as some parents do not know how to keep time
• You may not have privacy in your car
• In case of an accident, the responsibility of the other passengers will lie heavily on you
4. Parents Cars
Some parents own cars and they can easily take their children to school and pick them up in the evenings.
• You do not have to pay any charges
• Your children are always safe with you at all times
• It is not easy for parents who travel a lot or leave their jobs very late
• This mode of transport does not favor parents with children in different schools set in opposites ends of the town
5. Taxis/Motorcycle taxis (Boda Bodas)
Some parents engage taxis and motorcycle taxis popularly known as boda bodas to take their children to school. For both, it is usually someone you know well and use them from time to time. Boda bodas are mostly used in the rural areas where they cannot access cars.
• May be cheaper as compared to the other modes of transport
• They can allow your child to use their services even if you do not have money and negotiate to pay them later
• It is good because your kids are in the hands of someone you know well
• The taxi people may not maintain their cars which may be dangerous to your child.
• Some boda boda riders carry more kids than their capacity can handle and it can be very dangerous for kids
• It can be difficult to get a trustworthy person
Some kids have no choice but to use public transport when going to school. In most cases, the parents are unable to come up with the lump sum that is often required by schools for their buses. They can only afford daily fare for their children and this is what makes public transport ideal for them.
• It is ideal if you cannot afford school transport services or those that are privately owned.
• Always available unless there is a strike going on
• Kids get mistreated and pushed around by members of the public and conductors
• If a child loses money they may have a difficult time getting home.
• It can get quite hard for the kids when it rains because they will not only get wet but may also miss out on the buses and matatus. They may even be thrown out because matatus hike their fares unreasonably when it rains.