The Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) is set to strictly implement LTFRB Memo Circular 2013-006 despite a mass action protest staged by the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (Acto) and the National Alliance of School Service Operators (Nassap) last week.

After a 3-year delay the board has finally decided to order the phase-out of school bus units that are 15 years old and older citing the fact that operators have been given more than enough time to comply to the directive.

The age limit supersedes roadworthiness certification and applies even to operators with valid franchises as the board does not want to compromise the safety of school children.

Despite the 200-vehicle mass protest, Acto and Nassap agree with the circular. “We will comply, but we are just looking for a way to be able make down-payments for new units,” said Nassap president Celso de la Paz.

Based on the group’s survey, only 1% of the 30,000-strong group nationwide has been able to purchase new units for the upcoming school year.

The group’s main concern is the shortage of accredited school service that will arise with the strict implementation of the circular.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino agrees with the LTFRB order but wants affected operators to get some form of financial assistance so that their livelihoods will not get severely affected.

“Yung mga bibili siguro ng bagong bus na operator dapat mabigyan rin ng tulong 'yan ng kaukulang incentive para sa purchase ng bago na hindi naman madiskaril 'yung kanilang hanapbuhay dahil public service naman 'yun. Kung ano ang makakatulong sa ating estudyante na hindi naman mahihirapan ang school bus operators sinusportahan po natin 'yan,” Tolentino said.

[“Operators who will buy new buses should be given help or incentives in purchasing new models so that their businesses won’t be severely affected since part of what they’re doing is public service. We will support whatever makes travelling safer for students while making business easy for school bus operators,” Tolentino said.]

Aside from the age limit, school buses are required to have complete markings, medical kits, stop and go signs and early warning devices.

Violators will be fined Php 200,000 by the LTFRB and cited for operating out-of-line or colorum.

School service operators are requesting the board to delay the implementation for one more year.