MANILA — A lawmaker is proposing a Magna Carta for Commuters, which will mandate refunds for stranded commuters.
Section 10 of the bill authored by Rizal Rep. Julian Fidel Nograles will give commuters the right to special attention during service breakdowns and compensation for deficiencies in service.
This means that in case of a breakdown in a public transport service, passengers will be entitled to receive from the transport operator a full refund of the fare and assistance in securing onward journeys.
"Stranded passengers should be informed in a timely manner about how they will be redirected to their final destination," the bill reads.
"If onward journeys are unavailable for more than 1 hour, the transport operator should provide food, water, and access to a waiting area with restrooms and ventilation."
"Any student or employee should not be penalized for arriving late by their school or employer if the reason for their tardiness was a disruption in a public transport service," according to the bill.
The bill also gives the following rights to commuters:
- Right to public transportation services that satisfy commuters’ mobility requirements. – The State shall ensure that adequate public transportation services are available to meet the needs of its citizens. Public transportation services and infrastructure plans and programs should be prepared and updated on an annual basis in order to satisfy the evolving mobility requirements in our communities, especially in urban areas.
- Right to safe, convenient and affordable public transport services. – The State shall ensure that public transport services are safe, dignified, convenient, comfortable and reliable, while remaining affordable to the general public.
- Right to infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and persons with disabilities. – The State shall accord priority to the development of adequate sidewalks and networks of bicycle lanes that encourage active transport and that provide safe and direct access to priority destinations such as housing, education, and business centers as well as public transport nodes.
- Right to a fair share of public road space. – The State will ensure that public road space is used in a manner that delivers the greatest socio-economic benefit.
- Right to breathe clean air during travel. - The State shall take measures to ensure that commuters are able to travel using public transport or active transport (walking or cycling) without compromising their health.
- Right to information for efficient and convenient travel. – The State will provide timely and adequate information so that commuters are able to make good travel plans and choices about modes and routes.
- Right to representation and participation. - The State shall ensure that the welfare and interest of commuters are considered in all decision-making related to mobility and transportation services.
Any person or government agency who is found to be in violation of any of the provisions of the proposed law shall be fined not less than P200,000 but not more than P500,000.
If the offender is a public official, he/she shall be dismissed from government service, in addition to the penalties above stated.
"Unfortunately, Filipinos have long suffered mobility issues," Nograles said in his explanatory note.
"This disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in the country: the young and the elderly, the women, the poor, the working class, and the persons-with-disabilities who mostly rely on public transportation and active transport in every part of the country whether in urban or rural areas."
Nograles said the proposed magna carta calls for a shift from "car-centric public policy and infrastructure to sustainable transport and mobility".