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Governor supports new bus regulation calling for emergency exit doors

Gov. Togiola Tulafono has come out in full support of the new local regulation that requires aiga bus owners to install emergency exit doors on their buses by Jan. 1, 2013. This regulation was approved last week by the Commerce Commission, the ASG entity charged with regulation of aiga buses and taxis.

On the governor’s weekend radio program, a male caller said that he read in the newspaper last week about the changes being made on aiga buses, in which these vehicles will be required to have exit doors.

The caller said local buses will now copy and follow regulations for buses in Samoa with exit doors, which were required in Samoa to transport agriculture produce. The caller said this new regulation for local buses will cost money to implement and suggested we keep the local buses the way they are, instead of following Samoa’s path.

In his reply, Togiola thanked the caller for raising this issue and told him not to worry about this new but “very important… requirement” for local aiga buses. And if it appears that American Samoa is copying Samoa, then let it be, said the governor, who added that he suspects the caller and the majority of bus operators in the territory are also from Samoa.

The governor pointed out that all school buses are required to have exit doors as well — as an escape route, in case of an emergency.

This is the main goal of the Commerce Commission with the new changes to the aiga buses, he said. In the case of an emergency or an accident, there is an alternate escape route in the back of the aiga bus.

However, Togiola explained first that one of the obstacles cited by those who use aiga buses is that when they go shopping and purchase a large number of items, they cannot take them on board the buses, resulting in shoppers being forced to use taxis and pay higher fees.

He said this new change is to assist members of the community using buses to provide enough space to take bags and other purchases. Togiola says farmers also use buses to bring their produce to the Market Place for sale and many of them don’t own personal vehicles, so they end up renting trucks — which are expensive.

Togiola revealed that farmers have called on the government to keep the cost of using tables at the market place down, because of the expenses that go into bringing produce to the market place, where they have to use other forms of transportation instead of aiga buses, because there is no exit door to load cargo onto the bus.

The governor said sometimes there is no need to remain with the old ways of doing things when changes are necessary to improve the lives of the community.