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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 25 Nov 2008

Compulsory implementation of seat belts on mini-buses




Dr Fatimah Lateef: To ask the Minister for Transport with regards to the recent announcement on the compulsory implementation of seat belts on mini-buses,
(a) why has the deadline been set so far ahead to 2011 for school buses and 2013 for smaller buses;
(b) why have smaller buses which carry less than 15 passengers been given a later deadline; and
(c) given the seriousness and potential consequences related to the matter, whether his Ministry will consider an earlier deadline for the compulsory implementation of seatbelts.
Response from Senior Minister of State for Transport, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua
LTA decided on the implementation timeline for installing seat belts in existing small buses after carefully balancing the need to enhance safety while giving stakeholders adequate time to make adjustments, and to minimise disruption to the transport of school children. LTA had consulted the key stakeholders including schools, childcare centres and parents as well as school bus operators, associations and bus bodybuilders.
Today, there are about 6,400 small buses, of which 1,200 are school buses. Based on the feedback received, LTA is giving first priority to the retrofitting of school buses to enhance the safety of school children, as they are more vulnerable. However, one of the stakeholders’ concerns with the implementation of seat belts is the reduction in the capacity of these buses when carrying children. Three small children currently can occupy a seat for two adults. With seat belts, this is no longer possible, and as a result, some school children may be displaced from the buses they are currently taking.
The three-year time frame for school buses to retrofit seat belts is to minimise the disruption to the transport of these children that are displaced. It takes into consideration the need for schools and school bus operators to have adequate time to reorganise the routes of buses with spare capacity or introduce additional buses, as well as limitations such as the likelihood that retrofitting of school buses is carried out only during school holidays and the capacity of workshops doing the seat belt retrofitting work. LTA will be working closely through the schools and childcare centres, and with the school bus operators, to schedule existing school buses to be retrofitted with seat belts within the three-year period.
The five-year timeframe for the remaining small buses takes into consideration the fact that priority will be given to school buses during the first three years, and the capacity of the workshops to handle the retrofitting work.

Ministry of Transport

17 November 2008

Source: News 17 Nov 2008

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