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BEIJING - Local governments above the county level will be responsible for school bus safety management, according to a recently drafted regulation posted on the central government's official website, www.gov.cn, on Tuesday.
The Regulation on School Bus Safety Management was signed by Premier Wen Jiabao as a state decree on April 5.
The regulation asks local governments to ensure that students attend nearby schools or boarding schools so as to "reduce students' traffic risks."
Local governments are also obliged to develop urban and rural public transit options so students will be able to commute more conveniently.
For rural areas that cannot ensure nearby schooling or convenient public transport to schools, measures should be taken to ensure students' access to school buses.
Local governments above the county level should organize licensed bus companies to provide commuting services to students and supervise their operations, the regulation says, adding that security staff should accompany students in school buses.
The regulation specifies stricter requirements for the technical conditions of school buses, bus drivers' qualifications, the responsibilities of security staff and penalties for those who violate the regulation.
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 allay public concern.
The death toll has risen to three from the latest accident involving a school bus and a truck on Monday in South China's Guangdong province.
An initial investigation has shown that the bus, which had a loading capacity of 11 and belongs to the Jinlong Yucai Kindergarten, was carrying 19 people, including 17 children, the driver and a teacher.