Doing school buses the right way
Kap Maceda Aguila (The Philippine Star) - October 13, 2015 - 10:00am

Sometimes, government finds itself in a quagmire when it does what it’s supposed to at the expense of earning the ire of a segment of people who find themselves adversely affected.

For its willingness to stand in the crossfire to do what it’s supposed to, kudos goes to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), which found the gumption to implement a much needed ban on public utility vehicles 15 years old or more. As we have seen all too often, many buses, jeeps, and other modes of public transportation have proven to be rolling coffins. Years of use, abuse, and neglect have rendered them into derelict, dangerous vehicles immensely risky to take.

Now when you consider that we expose our children to the same kinds of danger even through the school buses they take, then you get a better appreciation for the phase out. LTFRB has put the hammer down on franchises of offending school buses, and violators will be slapped with a hefty P200,000. In case you’re wondering, operators had more than ample time to comply with the phase-out order that was issued in 2013. In addition to the age limit for PUVs, the LTFRB put in place additional requirements for school buses to further protect its youthful passengers.

“It is estimated that around 30,000 school buses ferrying 600,000 students have been removed from the streets and replaced with compliant vehicles with the LTFRB’s implementation of its phase-out order,” according to a release from Centro Manufacturing Corporation, which now touts its compliant vehicles for school bus operators affected by the phase out.

Replying to e-mailed questions from STAR Motoring, Centro sales and marketing VP Rommel Juan said: “We saw the upsurge in the nationwide demand in the shuttle segment of the mass transport industry and realized that most of the reliable Japanese shuttle models have only 15 seats or less yet has a price tag of over P1 million. We therefore saw the demand for a ‘mikrobus’ converted from a Japanese chassis cab with over 15 seats yet costs less than P1 million. Our answer is the L300 XV as it has 17 seats (including driver) at an introductory price of only P898,000.”

Asserted Juan: “Right now, the L300 XV is the most affordable van in the market.”

Dubbed the Centro L300 XV, the converted van fundamentally meets regulatory requirements for school buses: All seats are front-facing and are equipped with seat belts. Other requirements — specific body markings, metal guards on windows and even a medical kit, stop-and-go signs, an early warning device and a fire extinguisher — can be easily supplied by dealers.

“Instead of just putting a separate box-type passenger van at the back, Centro converts it into a one-piece shuttle van. We even made sure that sufficient air-conditioning is provided evenly inside the shuttle van, such that the air-conditioning comfort extends up to the very last row. This aircon system is provided by Mit-Air, a Mitsubishi-approved aircon supplier. So far, we have been getting very good feedback from customers for the L300 XV,” said Centro sales manager Vic Belisario, in a statement.

Centro is confident that the vehicle will appeal to the school-bus operators, just as the L300 XV had been popular in the sector. “(It’s) a profitable business but, considering its passengers, it requires safe and reliable vehicles. The Centro L300 XV is one such vehicle, and Centro is ready to take on the demand,” concluded Belisario.

ACIRC ASSERTED JUAN BELISARIO BUSES CENTRO CENTRO MANUFACTURING CORPORATION DUBBED THE CENTRO LAND TRANSPORTATION FRANCHISING AND REGULATORY BOARD ROMMEL JUAN SCHOOL VIC BELISARIO
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