School buses must have seat belts for all passengers, grilled windows

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AHEAD of the opening of in-person classes on August 22, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has allowed school transport services to resume operations.

Such vehicles, however, must have seat belts for all passengers and grilled windows among other requirements, the Department of Transportation announced on August 5, 2022.

LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2022-066 signed on July 28, 2022 allows those with active Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) or Provisional Authority (PA) as well as those with expired CPC but with pending Application for Extension of Validity to operate for the coming school year.

Transport services with expiring CPCs dating from March 31, 2022 to August 31, 2022 may file an application for Extension of Validity, without needing to pay LTFRB penalties, in recognition of the financial difficulties the Covid-19 pandemic has brought on transport operators.

The school transport services must have secured windows (steel-grilled), seatbelts for all passengers, a fire extinguisher, and “Stop” and “Go” signs for the conductor to carry to help children cross the street.

The drivers and conductors must wear the prescribed uniform.

As prescribed by the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, operators were also tasked to regularly screen drivers and conductors for high temperature and other Covid-19 symptoms, conduct regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, and ensure the wearing of face masks at all times by everyone aboard the vehicle.

LTFRB Memorandum Circular 2017-011 defines school transport as a van, mini coach, coaster or coach with front-facing seats and individual seatbelts; with body painted yellow, door locations that allow boarding only from curbside and not from the rear, free wi-fi, CCTV cameras, speed limiter and dashboard camera.

According to the Department of Education, 19.26 million of the targeted 28.6 million basic education students in the country have so far enrolled for School Year 2022-2023.

Not all of these are expected to attend classes in school, however, as the limited in-person classes that begin this Aug. 22 will give way to full face-to-face classes on Nov. 2 yet.