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Rough bus ride likely

Randy Bennett

Rough bus ride likely

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COMMUTERS ARE HOPING for the best but fearing for the worst when the new school term starts in the next few days.

With school set to commence on Monday and the Transport Board having already declared that transporting children to and from school will be its main focus, commuters are bracing themselves for what looks set to be rough times ahead.

In yesterday’s DAILY NATION, the Transport Board provided its school routes for 20 secondary schools.

When the WEEKENED NATION made a check at several garages across the island, including Simpson Motors, Trans-Tech Inc and United Commercial Autoworks Ltd (UCAL) to query on the readiness of buses, the recognisable blue and yellow Transport Board vehicles could be seen being worked on, presumably in hopes of being ready for next week’s hectic schedule.

Only three buses were seen at Simpson Motors, Warrens’ garage.

However, director Peter Cox said that the buses were only there for general servicing and never stay long on the compound.

It was a different story at Kendal Hill, where at least 11 buses could be seen parked in Trans-Tech’s garage.

And while workmen could be seen working feverishly on a bus stationed on a hydraulic hoist, information couldn’t be ascertained as to the state of the other vehicles.

Over at UCAL, there were numerous buses also being repaired, some seemingly in working order, while others stood engineless.

An employee, who asked not to be identified, said that the majority of buses would be on the road on Monday.

Commuters were not so optimistic, however, at the nearby Princess Alice Terminal.

According to Rudolph Lynch, who was patiently waiting for either a Wanstead Drive or Holder’s Hill bus, things will only get worse when school starts back.

“Things are going to get worse, but what can we do?” the elderly man asked. “When the bus comes we are going to take it and when it doesn’t come we will have to wait.”

Another elderly woman in earshot of the conversation promptly blurted out “the bus service ain’t nothing like years gone by.”

Another woman who preferred to remain anonymous shook her head in annoyance as she highlighted her plight.

“I was here waiting for a Sturges bus, but I now hear that they won’t have any today [yesterday], the same as yesterday [Wednesday].

“It means I will have to catch either a Shorey Village bus or a minibus and walk in,” she explained.

A resident of Lion Castle, St Thomas complained that the route had gone from a high of 12 buses daily to two or three.

He doesn’t know how much worse things can get for him and his neighbours.

“When school starts back, I don’t know what is going to happen. Sometimes we get one bus in the morning and one in the evening, so we are already at a big disadvantage.”

In the meantime, interim chairman of the Alliance for Owners of Public Transport (formerly Alliance for Owners of Public Service Vehicles), Roy Raphael has maintained they would do as much as they could to ease the pain of commuters.

He said that similar to the Transport Board, they were faced with a serious challenge of ageing vehicles which was greatly affecting their effectiveness.

“We will continue to service commuters and routes in general as best as we can, but we have a serious issue in which over 90 per cent of our fleet are ageing. Some are over 30 years old,” Raphael pointed out.

He revealed the association had already approached the Transport Authority and offered a suggestion which would allow them to place vehicles on routes which the Transport Board could not adequately service.

Raphael named Sugar Hill as one of those routes, which he said currently only had one public service vehicle operating on the route.