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The SVG public transportation system is very poor


Tue, Aug 09, 2010

Editor: I am not sure if you have ever used the private transportation system in our beloved country, to identify with the woes and poor services provided to the travelling public.{{more}} Well, I have, and it is very poor compared to our Caribbean neighbours.

Allow me to first congratulate the minibus association for their unity in these tough times. Although it appears that the only evidence of an association is when there is a need for increases in bus fares or to have the price of petroleum products adjusted to lower their overheads.

In 2006, the Minibus Association got an increase in bus fares and gas subsidy from the government to lower their overheads. I am not certain if any bus owner received any such subsidy, but I know that the bus fares were implemented in some parts of the country.

The public was powerful then and, I believe, is still powerful. In 2006, the public decided that they were not going to pay the increase in bus fees fares and they did not, because the quality of service was poor then and is still poor today.

But 2011 is different; the public is more sympathetic and understanding with the minibus drivers; but why? The increase in bus fares, petroleum products, and bad roads, for example, or to name a few etc. are hurting the minibus drivers. Likewise the public is also experiencing financial woes – such as high food prices, high electricity bills, high gas prices and now high bus fees and less money to buy the same quantity of foods; so the public understands and is paying the bus fees approved in 2006.

I describe the transportation system as being poor, for the following reasons:

1. Passengers are crammed or squeezed into buses; this is uncomfortable and coupled with conductors in our faces.

2. Passengers are not taken to their final destination or close as possible to their homes where there are roads.

3. Lewd, loud, violence-oriented and dirty music.

4. Conductors who practise poor or no personal hygiene.

5. Uncomfortable seating in some buses.

6. Absent or no transportation regulations.

7. No systematic organization of the country regarding bus routes.

8. Minibus changing work areas as they see fit, or when they perceive no passengers are in that area to be transported.

9. Unavailability of buses after 10 pm on week days, none on weekends and public holidays.

10. Inadequate number of buses in some areas.

I do not consider this list to be exhaustive.

The authorities have looked to the traffic regulations to control services provided by the minibus association, which is not possible. The traffic regulations regulate driving on the roads and compliance with traffic signs and rules, etc. This country needs a Transport Act and accompanying regulations to control minibus drivers and the services they offer to the public.

I would like to ask the transport board a few questions:

1. Is there a transport authority, and who runs the day-to-day operations of the authority?

2. Have you ever conducted research to determine the needs of the commuting public and the quality of the service provided?

3. Are you responsible to the public? If you are, shouldn’t the public be informed of the results or outcomes of meetings held with the Minibus Association?

4. Are there standards and rules that minibus drivers and conductors must follow?

5. Are there criteria or standards apart from traffic rules that vehicles must meet before they can transport passengers?

6. Do you have a close working relationship with insurance companies, traffic department, license office and other stakeholders?

7. Do you know how many persons use the poor transport service on a daily basis?

It will be good for the transport board to answer these questions, as they may help to give some sense of direction.

At this moment, the Minibus Association is not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting held with transport board; but what they are not happy with, the public does not have the slightest idea. I am going to assume it is the usual, increase in bus fares.

I am suggesting that the transport board convene a press conference to update the public on the issues brought to the table by the Minibus Association. The travelling public deserves to know the issues and is requesting better service from the minibus association.

Reynold Hewitt