Schoolchildren from 11 schools in PJ to get free rides

1 Passengers ready to board the PJ CityBus after the launch at Jalan Yong Shook Lin.

STUDENTS from 11 schools in Petaling Jaya will soon enjoy free bus rides in the morning starting Oct 1.

This is good news for those taking the public bus to school as the Petaling Jaya free school bus service is exclusive for students.

The Petaling Jaya City Council’s aim (MBPJ) in providing the free bus service is to provide convenience to those living in PJ South to prevent them from having to jostle with the working crowd.

Mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said the free school bus service would help families maximise their household budget and lessen the financial burden on parents in the current economic situation.

“With the escalating cost of living, some students are forced to walk from Taman Dato Harun off Jalan Kelang Lama to SM La Salle in Jalan Gasing.

“So, when I heard of their plight last month, I decided that MBPJ must help parents in PJ South to overcome this problem,” he said.

MBPJ’s aim is to accommodate as many students as possible by using a central pick-up and drop-off location, closest to the school, in the morning.

The bus service is scheduled to start at 6am covering a distance of 16km to all 11 schools, from the PJ South 3/2 bus hub.

The journey is estimated to take 55 minutes.

Mohd Azizi said the council’s assessment collection must be given back to the people.

“Free school bus transport was a small price to pay but there is tremendous benefit to the middle and lower income earners,” he said.

The schools chosen are Sekolah Rendah Agama Kampung Medan 1 and 2, SK Petaling Jaya, SK Jalan Selangor 1 and 2, SK Assunta 1 and 2, SMK Assunta, SK and SMK La Salle, Catholic High School, SK Alam Shah 1 and 2, SMK Sultan Abdul Samad, SK Sri Petaling 1 and 2 and SMK (L) Bukit Bintang.

“This is wonderful news as it will reduce the financial burden of the parents with regards to school bus fees,” said Sekolah Rendah Agama Kampung Medan 2 senior assistant (students affairs) Najib Arridza Mordi.

Najib said the free school bus should also ferry the students after school in the afternoon.

“MBPJ just cannot send the students to school in the morning and not care about fetching them in the afternoon.

“It is a beautiful programme but it must be done in a proper manner,” he said.

Mohd Azizi said the finer details were being ironed out, where a qualified bus driver would be chosen and his background checked for good behaviour.

“We will have the bus driven by the same driver each day.

“This way the driver gets to know the children’s routine and in addition the parents build up trust in the driver,” he added.

SK La Salle principal Latifah Abd Latif said the bus service idea was a great initiative as it would be convenient for pupils walking a few kilometers to school from Taman Desa Jaya, Sri Manja and Taman Medan off Jalan Kelang Lama.

“Almost 70% of our pupils come from these areas and most of them walk, as getting a school bus is not within their means due to the high fees.

“I am glad as the free school bus service will ensure the pupils are not tired and come to school on time,” she said.

Latifah urged MBPJ to provide the bus service to ferry the pupils in the morning and afternoon.

“MBPJ must not leave the pupils in a lurch,” she said.

She added that MBPJ must hold a briefing for all 11 schools on the free bus scheme.

“We want MBPJ to brief the Parents, Teachers Association and the schools’ administration on the pick-up-points and the route.

“At this session, we will be able to give feedback that will create an efficient and effective programme,” she said.

SM Assunta senior assistant (student affairs) Zainon Sulaiman said the free bus service must be complete with students being fetched after school.

“MBPJ must discuss this free bus service with the schools as we want the bus driver to receive additional training compared to regular bus drivers that covers aspects of attitude and safety.

“Our students are girls and we are concerned,” she said.

Zainon added that MBPJ must compile a list or register all the children who will travel on the bus.

“Providing a service is one aspect but information about the student’s travel patterns – where from, where to and parents contact numbers are important in emergencies.

“If a student does not show up at their usual pick-up-point, the driver can inform MBPJ’s school bus hotline, which then contacts the parents,” she said.

Petaling Jaya councillor Peter Chong said the free bus scheme created less school-gate congestion, pollution and students had the ease of travelling in a safer way.

“Transporting children using the bus will enable children to develop independence in a safe environment.

“It also provides better preparation for a student’s school day minus the hassle of getting on a public bus or walking long distances,” he added.

Chong agreed with the school administrators for MBPJ’s Road Audit Department to hold a briefing for all 11 schools.

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