AS CLASSES opened this week, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Northern Mindanao has reminded school owners and carpool operators to obtain or renew the franchise of their school buses or carpooling schemes.
School transport operations, LTFRB-Northern Mindanao regional director Aminoden Guro said, falls under the carpool law and it is their mandate to enforce the Carpool Act of 2014.
Carpool is defined under said law as “an arrangement among four people or more, including the driver of a particular vehicle who would otherwise drive their own vehicle, to make a regular journey in a single vehicle instead.
The carpool law was enacted in 2014 and was seen as a way to solve the worsening traffic situation especially in the country’s major urban areas where gridlocks are a common occurrence every day.
The LTFRB said that carpooling, also called school or work buses, will lessen vehicles on the road.
“We are reminding school administrators and school transport operators who engage in school and work transport business to secure franchise to legalize their operation, as embodied in Executive Order No. 202,” Guro said.
He added that Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) should help schools or private carpool operators to secure legal transport papers to safeguard their children’s daily trips to and from their school.
Pursuant to Executive Order 202, or the creation of the LTFRB, and the Public Service Act, which aimed to ensure safety and convenience of students and personnel, all schools should make sure that school buses or shuttle transports operated by learning institutions have valid Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC).
Guro said carpools that are legally operating have to assure that the passengers’ safety is given topmost priority.
He said carpools are allowed not to apply for a franchise if they do it for free, “but when they start to collect fees, they have to secure franchises.”
Guro said his office has already sent letters to school authorities to inform them of their obligation concerning the transport of students.
Aside from choosing the right type and model of vehicles, Guro said school buses must also be painted yellow and must have a fire extinguisher on board.
He said many of the schools with school buses have yet to comply with this directive.
Guro showed reporters photos of some of the school transports that are painted with colors other than yellow, and he said school and carpool operators must be compliant with the specified color.
He said school buses and vehicles that have not secured proper LTFRB documents will be penalized. A penalty of P1 million will be meted for buses, and P200,000 for vans.