Kings Nad Al Sheba has ‘frozen’ transport fees at 4,500 AED per year, two-ways, for all students regardless of where they live. From our research, GEMS National School is currently the only school advertising transport discounts which increases for each additional sibling.
Indian schools offer the best transport deals with GEMS Our Own English High School charging only 4,700 AED per year for two-ways daily to Barsha (28 minutes, 38 km), Arabian Ranches (22 minutes, 29 km) and Dubai Sports City (24 minutes, 34 km).
Primus Private School also offers transport across much of Dubai or between 3,350 AED and 5,600 AED, depending on the route.
The bad news is, in general, the more you pay in tuition fees, the more you're likely to pay for transport.
Take or example, GEMS Founders, GEMS National School and GEMS World Academy. Founders and the National School are built on adjoining plots while GEMS World is located only two kilometres away, yet the transport fees differ significantly.
Founders charges 6,000 AED per year for transport to the Marina, GEMS National School charges 7,000 AED (plus various sibling discounts) and GEMS World Academy charges 9,100 AED. All schools are, approximately, 18 minutes, or 16 km away.
"How can the price discrepancy be possible?" says one Dubai mum. "It's all the same company, how can they justify having different prices for schools located right beside each other?"
Victory Heights Primary School charges 9,500 AED for the 20 km trip to the Marina. The most expensive annual, two-way school transport, we found during research, is from the School of Research Science, which asks parents for 10,000 AED for the, approximately, 20 km daily trip to Silicon Oasis.
The best transport deal (possibly not in kilometres, but certainly in sheer time spent on the service), must be Al Diyafah School’s 7,875 AED from Ajman to the Dubai school. It takes, when there is relatively good traffic, approximately 30 minutes.
And, for number of kilometres, GEMS Winchester Jebel Ali offers clearly the most miles or your money, with a staggering 60 km + each way to Sharjah daily for only 6,400 AED.
Interestingly, if you plan on using the bus, it's often not cost effective to live in the vicinity of your child's school.
Green Community based school Dovecote Green's transport company charges parents living in the Green community itself 7,500 AED per year. Yet, it charges those living in Ghadeer 9,000 AED transport fees.
That's an additional 1,500 AED in transport, yet the cost of accommodation in the two areas differs significantly, with a three-bedroom villa in Ghadeer costing around 115,000 AED per year and in Green Community the same costs from 175,000 AED plus.
Again, villas in Mirdif start around 100,000 AED per year while those in Springs are priced from 150,000 AED. Dubai mum of two, Hannah says:
"This is my first year with kids at school using buses and I don't really have anything positive to say! "I hate the fact that I pay nearly 14,000 AED a year for two kids to use the bus. We live approx 5 minutes journey in the car away from school yet the kids get picked up 55 minutes before school starts... Myself and my husband work so there's no way for us to do the drop offs/pick ups. I'm looking into getting a family driver for next year."
While most schools offer fees depending on the location, there are schools which offer parents a flat rate regardless of where their children catch the bus.
Interestingly, English College has been running a trial metro shuttle bus service to and from the school, allowing older students to use the Dubai Metro for the majority of their journey and charging only 5 AED.
GEMS Founders Barsha charges 6,500 AED to Mirdif, yet the new GEMS Founders in Mizhar (just beside Mirdif) charges parents only 5,500 AED to JVC, the neighbourhood just past GEMS Al Barsha.
One of the perennial parent gripes when discussing school transport has always been the lack of one-way options available. Well, it seems the schools were listening, and currently there are many schools offering the option should the seats be available.
GEMS in particular, is now offering one way routes, however it should be noted the majority are prices at around two-thirds of the full/two-way fees.
Victoria International School in Sharjah (Australian/IB curriculum) offers parents in the Marina, Palm, Springs, Arabian Ranches, Silicon Oasis two-way annual transport for 9,300 AED and one way 6,510 AED. Not bad or the 40 km plus trip!
Are school bus companies doing a great job? Do you feel the bus fees you pay make sense are are fair? Let us know! Add your comments below!