Congress ratifies bill providing free wi-fi, clean restrooms in transport terminals

Congress has ratified a measure mandating transport terminals to improve their facilities through the provision of free internet services and clean sanitary facilities.

Senate Bill 1749, or an "Act to Improve Land Transportation Terminals, Stations, Stops, Rest Areas and Roll-On/Roll-Off Terminals," was passed by both Houses of Congress, with the House of Representatives adopting the Senate version.

Senate Secretary Myra Marie D. Villarica wrote a letter, dated February 20, 2019, transmitting nine enrolled copies of the bill for the signature of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Acting Secretary General of the House of Representatives Dante Roberto P. Maling.

Sen. 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 Malacanang for the President's signature.

The bill mandates that transportation and roll-on/roll-off terminals nationwide should 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.

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

She said terminal toilet experience "is one aspect that travellers remember, whether the experience is impressive or horrible. Terminals and toilets are crucial to tourism," she said.

"Toilet issues are not petty matters, but important in satisfying the public's need for healthy living," she added.

The measure also prohibits terminal operators from collecting 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," the mesaure stated.

Aside from the free use of the clean toilets, the bill also mandates the Department of Information and Communications Technology, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and other concerned agencies to provide free internet access in the terminals.

While waiting for their trip, Poe said that passengers while away the time checking their social media accounts or attending to their work remotely, which requires the use free internet, Wi-Fi or broadband.

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 and another P5,000 each day 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 their failure to provide breastfeeding stations.

Source: Senate of the Philippines