Congress adopts Senate bill seeking upgrades in transport terminals

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Congress has ratified the bill that would mandate transport terminals to improve their facilities by providing free internet services and clean sanitary facilities.

Senate Bill 1749, or the proposed “Act to Improve Land Transportation Terminals, Stations, Stops, Rest Areas and Roll-On/Roll-Off Terminals,” has been approved by both houses of Congress, with the House of Representatives adopting the Senate bill.

Commuters line up as they board a passenger jeepney during rush hour in Quezon City. A transport group appealed to authorities to raise the minimum jeepney fare to P12 amid the recent increases in the price of fuel. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)
Commuters line up as they board a passenger jeepney during rush hour in Quezon City. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

The measure awaits the signature of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for enrollment to the Palace.

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services and principal author of the measure, expressed hope the bill would be transmitted soon to Malacañang for the President’s signature.

Under the bill, land transport and roll-on/roll-off terminals nationwide would be required to have clean restroom facilities and free internet access.

The terminals must also have separate lactating stations for breastfeeding mothers.

“An efficient and functional inter-province transport system is essential to ensuring that Filipinos travel safely. In particular, rest stops are indispensable for those travelling by land, as they provide a brief ‘pit stop’ for travellers and bus drivers,” Poe said in a statement.

“This is especially important for Filipinos who travel for more than eight hours,” she added.

In pushing the enactment of the bill, she stressed that clean terminal toilets are also crucial to tourism, saying it “is one aspect that travellers remember, whether the experience is impressive or horrible.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and other concerned agencies shall be mandated to provide free internet access in the terminals.

Aside from clean facilities, the proposed law would also prohibit terminal operators from charging fees from passengers for the use of restrooms. “The concerned passenger must show paid bus ticket in order to avail of the free use of sanitary facilities,” read the measure.

The owner, operator, or administrator of land transport terminals, stations, stops, rest areas and RORO terminals who does not comply with the standards for sanitary facilities will be fined in the amount of P5,000 each day of violation. A fine of P5,000 each day will be imposed for those who collect fees from the passengers for the use of sanitary facilities.

Another P5,000 each day of violation will also be imposed to operators or owners as penalty for the failure to provide breastfeeding stations.