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Local govts urged to ensure school bus safety


15:17, August 14, 2012

BEIJING - A circular was issued in China on Monday to ask local governments to better implement the regulation on school bus safety management by mapping out a transitional period.

Issued by the Ministry of Education and another 19 departments responsible for school bus safety, the circular urged local governments to establish a school bus safety management system, set a reasonable transitional period and make detailed provisions in terms of school bus permissions, school bus drivers' qualifications and legal responsibilities.

The focus of the management work should be put on rural areas where schooling is beyond the reach of public transport and nearby schooling is not feasible, said the circular.

The authorities also urged local governments in all areas to encourage major passenger transport enterprises to be engaged for professional school bus operations.

It also noted that all passenger vehicles during the transitional period should obtain school bus signs and employ drivers that meet qualifications. After the transitional period, school buses should conform to the national school bus standards.

The circular also said a coordinated safety check campaign will be launched this fall and all irregular practices will be rectified.

The regulation on school bus safety, which was implemented on April 5, came after a string of school bus accidents occurred in China last year, prompting the government to introduce new safety regulations and standards for school buses to better ensure students' safety and allay public concern.

The most serious accident occurred in November last year, when 21 students were killed after their nine-seat minivan, which was crammed with 62 preschool students, crashed in northwestern Gansu Province.

After the accident, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the school bus safety regulation to be drafted in a timely fashion, and it was passed in March in a meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet.

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