The conference was developed in a partnership between the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) in the U.S. At center is NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin.
About 17 nations were represented in the United Arab Emirates in April as Dubai held its first conference aimed at enhancing school transportation.
With the array of recommendations being presented and the inaugural nature of the event, it brought to mind the beginnings of the National Congress on School Transportation (NCST) for those from the U.S.
Being at the Dubai conference had a feeling of “what it was probably like to be at an early Warrensburg conference,” said Alex Robinson, president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), referring to the Missouri town where the NCST gatherings came to be held. “Dubai is coming out with policies and procedures for school transportation, and other emirates are following suit. It was very humbling to be on the ground floor of that.”
The event, billed as the 1st Annual Conference on Shaping Sustainable School Transportation with Policy, Attitude and Action, stemmed from a partnership between the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and NAPT.
The conference, held April 21 to 23, included seven general education sessions with 27 speakers from 11 countries. There were about 280 delegates and 600 visitors, including some high-level dignitaries like the ministers of education from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and Dubai’s chief of police.
There were also four separate training workshops for school bus drivers, school bus supervisors (a variation of what are called bus monitors in the U.S.) and parents, with about 150 people participating.
“I did a driver training for about 65 to 70 current drivers,” Robinson said. “They were all very polite and very by-the-book.”
The trade show brought in 35 local and international exhibitors, including several from the U.S.
Delegates were taken on a citywide tour that explained the various modes of school transportation in Dubai. They also visited a school and its related transportation facility, courtesy of Emirates Transport.