about public transportation
Minister of Finance made what I consider to be an amazing
pronouncement in her budget statement. She said the Government
believed that public transportation was now reliable
It was in the light of this that the Government made the decisions
to increase motor vehicle tax on the importation of private
motor vehicles and raise the price of premium gas.
I wonder if any Cabinet member, most of all the Minister of
Finance, has used public transportation in recent timesor
even in life.
If he/she has, then it would have been clear that any claim
that the system is reliable and efficient is farcical.
I myself have not travelled by public transport for several
years, but I do drive along the East/West Corridor every day,
and I can see the massive number of commuters awaiting transportation.
I have observed people pushing and shoving to get a maxi-taxi
or a bus, and in truth, the state of affairs does not appear
to be much different today from what it was when I was a schoolgirl,
and travelling in public transportation was a nightmare.
This conclusion was confirmed when I made enquiries of several
young people who use public transportation as to their experiences.
The unanimous view was that, in so far as travel along the
East-West Corridor was concerned, the situation is chaotic
every day, and public transportation is unreliable.
Each person questioned felt that every member of the Government
who believed that the system was efficient should be made
to travel for a week, or even a couple of days, in public
transportation before suggesting that this is the way the
public should go.
PTSC buses do not appear to operate on a fixed schedule, commuters
say. For example, there are buses from La Horquetta that are
supposed to leave at 5, 6 and 6.30 am, but they can be late
for as much as half-hour.
From Arima, there is supposed to be a bus every 30 minutes,
but again they are not reliable. Sometimes two or three buses
arrive in a space of ten minutes, and then there is none for
A commuter, therefore, cannot come out at 6.30 am every day
expecting to get a bus and arrive in Port-of-Spain by 8.30
am. It may happen some days, but on others you have to wait
The situation is worse leaving Port-of-Spain. In fact, none
of the people I spoke to actually took a bus out of City Gate.
The line was too long every time. It would meander
outside City Gate, and there was never any sign that it would
get shorter. This alone attested to the fact that there was
clearly an insufficient number of buses to meet the needs
of would-be PTSC passengers.
They have to resort to maxi-taxis.
Just looking from the outside at City Gate I have been struck
by the apparent disorganisation of the whole maxi-taxi system,
and this impression was confirmed by what I learnt on enquiry.
I was told that it was frequently a fight to get a place in
a maxi-taxi. Commuters pushed, squeezed to get into the maxi,
so much so that many taxis have been damaged as a result.
I was told of people jumping through windows of the maxis
to get in before they were filled. Children and pregnant women
all fall in the crush, with no quarter given to them, and
pickpocketing is common.
Some maxi operators are so fearful of the crowds that they
refrain from parking in their designated areas to avoid the
rush of people, and instead stop elsewhere.
The travelling public are dissatisfied with the service that
the Government deems reliable and efficient. They speak of
having to wait for 30-45 minutes at City Gate to get a maxi-taxi.
If you get there at 4.30 or thereafter, forget waiting in
City Gate. You have to walk as far as Sea Lots (near the market)
to obtain transport. The minister spoke of the stress and
decline in the quality of life as a result of the traffic
She clearly does not appreciate the daily battle that commuters
face just to get to and from work. The present situation with
the maxi taxis is untenable.
I wonder if any Cabinet minister is aware that it cost the
same $5 to go from City Gate to San Juan as it does to go
from City Gate to Arima.
Therefore, on any day when transport is difficult, taxis make
the short trips. An Arima resident would pay $5 to Curepe,
$4 to Five Rivers and then $5 to Arima. This is what frequently
operates on the trip into Port-of-Spain as well.
Imagine an OJT employee earning about $1,800 a month employed
in Port-of-Spain, and living in Arima, paying this kind of
money for transportation and undergoing this kind of stress
on a daily basis.
Yet the minister boasts of sustainable employment and efficient
and reliable public transportation.
She must be joking.