By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board ordered the suspension of the entire fleet of a bus company involved in a fatal accident in Occidental Mindoro over the week citing “gross negligence” for “pathetic conditions” of its terminal and buses and previous accidents that killed and wounded many.
The LTFRB issued yesterday an order suspending the entire fleet of Dimple Star bus company for 30 days which covers 118 units under 10 franchises on top of the preventive suspension order (PSO) it earlier released.
The PSO released on March 21 was issued after one of the Dimple Star buses figured in an accident in Occidental Mindoro which killed 19 and injured 21.
The latest suspension order, on the other hand, was issued when the board found out numerous violations of the bus company following series of inspection at their terminal on Main Avenue in Quezon City.
According to LTFRB member Atty. Aileen Lizada, they have visited the terminal a day right after the incident and two buses ready to travel bound for Iloilo have wornout tires.
“The following day, another team inspected the buses in their terminals, and still there are units with wornout tires,” Lizada told reporters.
The board member added that tires are being changed inside the terminal which was improper as buses at the terminal should be ready to carry passengers and ready for travel.
During the inspection, the board also discovered that some of the buses have defective signal lights, incomplete signage, blurred PUV markings, and no drivers’ ID.
Aside from the conditions of the buses, the LTFRB stated in the order that the terminal “does not conform with the conditions listed on Memorandum Circular 2008-013” which states the standard classification and guidelines in the establishment, maintenance and operations of public transport terminals.
Based on the latest order signed yesterday, the Dimple Star terminal in Quezon City has “no sufficient roofing, no adequate and comfortable benches with backrest for waiting passengers, unpaved terminal, no communication facility, no appropriate signage, no priority lane, and no separate comfort rooms for male and female.”
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III, said the business permit issued to the bus company stated that it is a “terminal/garage,” which he opposed saying that it should be either a terminal or a garage and not both.
“As I’ve said, yung lugar na yun, hindi pang-terminal yung nakita namin. Pwede pang-garahe pero hindi pwedeng pang-terminal. (As I’ve said, that place that we saw is not suitable to be a terminal. It can be used as a garage but not as a terminal) It offers the least convenient service for the passengers of the Dimple Star,” Delga said on the sidelines of the launch of Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2018 over the week.
The order also stated that the Board “took strong notice of previous road crashes” involving units of the bus company based on the copy of the PSOs it issued on seven accidents from 2011 to 2015.
In July 2017, the LTFRB and the Metro Manila Development Authority issued a closure order against Dimple Star for violating the “nose in, nose out” policy.
With the “negligence” of the Dimple Star bus company both in the management, noncompliance of its terminal, and poor maintenance of some of his buses, the Board has ordered the 30-day suspension of the entire fleet of the bus company plying the routes of Iloilo City – Cubao, Quezon City and vice versa; Iloilo City – Paranaque City and vice versa; San Jose, Occidental Mindoro – Sampaloc, Manila and vice versa; Manila – San Jose (Occidental Mindoro) and vice versa; Dumaguete, Negros Oriental – Cubao, Quezon City and vice versa; Caticlan (Iloilo) – Market Market and vice versa; and Romblon – Cubao, Quezon City and vice versa.
Lizada told the riding public not to worry if there will be a lack of buses traveling these routes as they are starting to accept applications for special permits from some bus operators, especially influx of passengers is expected this Holy Week exodus.
In the copy of the order, the LTFRB asked the bus operator to comply with some guidelines within the 30-day suspension, which includes inspection and determination of roadworthiness of its buses through the Land Transportation Office.
Drivers of the bus company should undergo a Road Safety seminar to be conducted and scheduled by the LTFRB. They should also undergo compulsory drug testing conducted by an accredited agency of the LTO and the Department of Health.
Dimple Star should also submit certificates of registration and latest LTO official receipts of the suspended units including the drivers’ and conductors’ names.
Adding to the protocol is also the submission of video proof that roadworthiness inspection, safety seminar and drug testing requirements are fulfilled; and also proof that the buses are installed with LTFRB-registered Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).
The Board also directed the bus company to surrender their for hire plates to the LTFRB Legal Division until March 26.