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Castle service not express

Anesta Henry

Castle service not express

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THE EXPRESS WAS not the express after all, and from my experience on the 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Sam Lord’s Castle buses last Tuesday, there is clearly a need for the recently introduced service to be reviewed.
I had imagined that by the end of the two trips from the Fairchild Street terminal I would have been able to finish the reading of a book. But I was jolted into reality by the constant jerking from the changing of gears and the not infrequent picking up and dropping off of passengers, which was not in my plan nor in the publicized plan of the Transport Board.
In a Press release published in the December 10 WEEKEND NATION, the Transport Board notified the public that the special limited stop bus service to Sam Lord’s Castle would start on Monday, December 13.
The release also said that south-bound express services would run at 7:30 a.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and it would only stop to pick up passengers if there was room on the bus, but the first stop for passengers to disembark would be at Oistins, Christ Church.
 The normal service from Oistins to Christ Church will continue as usual, the release also indicated. This new limited stop express is designed to provide a faster and easier service for passengers travelling to the St Philip destination. Commuters who want to make intermediate stops along the same route can take the Fairy Valley, Silver Sands or St Christopher bus service.
Upon boarding the bus at 7:30 a.m. one passenger politely asked the bus driver, “Is this bus the express service?” The youthful driver promptly replied “Yes” and pulled out of the terminal two minutes later. Pretty soon the 25 passengers were joined by others who embarked on River Road, St Michael.
The driver was following management’s instructions when he allowed commuters to board the bus along the route. However, contrary to the release, he allowed passengers to disembark in the Hastings, Christ Church area, as well as other supposedly non-designated places along the way.
I had not yet started reading, but I was sitting next to a commuter who gave me an earful of concerns about the service. After minutes of hearing his stupses and views, I decided to introduce myself to him, but he in turn withheld his name.
Before he disembarked in St Philip, he ranted: “I don’t feel them should got no express bus for Sam Lord’s Castle, especially at 7:30 in the morning. This is bare foolishness them doing. They had this service in the 80s or 90s when there wasn’t so much public and private transportation on the road.
“This is a busy route; this shouldn’t be any express route. Look at how much people get in the bus in the terminal. If the driver didn’t pick up people on the road, this bus would be empty.  That driver probably doesn’t know he ain’t supposed to be putting off people – yuh never know,” said the passenger.
The bus arrived in Oistins at 7:53 a.m., taking on two passengers before arriving at its final destination, Shrewsbury, St Philip, around 8:20 a.m. The bus did not return to town as an express service.
At 6 p.m. the same day, I boarded the bus again for the long trip. This time the bus left the terminal packed and had to join a long line of traffic along the south coast. As was the case with the morning journey, the bus driver allowed passengers to board and disembark the bus wherever they wanted.
Again, I met a traveller who disagreed with the service. “In my opinion, the people at Transport Board . . . them ain’t even have enough buses on the road to do this,” he said. “There is so much added transportation on the road; you got minibuses and ZR vans.
“When people can’t catch this bus and get off in Worthing you sending them to catch the minibuses. And let me tell you something, there got people who don’t like to catch the minibuses but when you do this you [are] forcing them to. . . ”
 He had a suggestion: “What they need to do is regulate the school children; don’t mind them don’t pay; let them get the school bus. You would see the St James Secondary school bus come down [and] the Ellerslie children ain’t getting in that although it got room.
“What they will do is wait for the bypass or another bus and get in it and got people that want to get work can’t get it . . . . Regulate the school children.”
The bus drove through Oistins at 6:52 p.m. without stopping to collect or drop off passengers. It arrived in Shrewsbury, St Phillip around 7:22 p.m. That bus, too, did not travel back to town as an express.
At the end of the day I was exhausted after making the two trips but I was alert enough to come to the conclusion that the drivers probably don’t know they aren’t supposed to be putting off people.
So in an effort to find out why what I experienced was different from what was promised in the Press release, I contacted the Transport Board’s marketing and communications manager Lynda Holder.
She said the board’s management would be carrying out investigations.