By Rommel F. Lopez

Passengers line up to ride a bus at the Araneta Center Bus Terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. | PNA PHOTO BY JOEY O. RAZON

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11311 on April 17, but a copy of the document was released just last Wednesday by Malacañang.

The new law requires “owners, operators, and administrators of land transportation terminals, stations, stops, rest areas, and roll-on/roll-off terminals to improve their facilities through the provision of free internet services, and clean sanitary facilities.”

The Department of Information and Communications Technology, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and other concerned stakeholders, is mandated to ensure that free internet connection is provided to passengers in transportation stations, stops, rest areas and roll-on/roll-off terminals.

Sanitary facilities standards as identified by the new law include safe, adequate, and running water supply; adequate ventilation and lighting; and separate restrooms for male and female passengers and persons with disabilities.

There should also be a door lock, flush system, toilet seat with cover, a lavatory with toilet paper, mirror, soap, hand dryer, a waste bin and exclusive space for diaper-changing.

Terminals must be well-ventilated and should have private, clean and sanitary lactation rooms where nursing mothers can wash up, breastfeed, or express their milk comfortably.

The law states that the use of regular sanitary facilities should be free. Passengers only need to show their bus ticket.

The law imposes a P5,000 fine on the owner, operator, or administrator of land transport terminals, stations, stops and rest areas that do not comply with the law.

The Senate passed its version of the law on July 24, 2018. The House of Representatives adopted its version on Jan. 29, 2019.

“Now, travelers and commuters can rest in the thought that after hours in traffic, they can find an oasis in transportation terminals through free internet connection and clean comfort rooms,” Sen. Grace Poe, principal author and sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.