30 bus breakdowns a day
Challenges facing the state-owned Transport board are enormous but new chairman Gregory Nicholls is undaunted.
There are 80 buses on the road, with about 30 breaking down every day, he said, adding that 179 buses were needed to service all routes as well as schools.
“The commercial life of a bus is ten years. The last time the Transport Board bought buses was in 2006, so our newest fleet is two years past the normal period for the retention of buses,” Nicholls said.
“The buses on the road are from 1997, 2004 and 2006, so having not replaced your fleet or renewed the fleet in a systematic way over the last 12 years, we have an aged fleet that works on average between 21/22 hours per day.
“[This] is not optimal, because when buses get in the depot between 1 and 2 a.m, they have to be deployed to get out there for 4:45 a.m. So they are only getting two hours’ rest.”
He charged that this was as a result of the former Democratic Labour Party’s administration’s “refusal to put in place a replacement programme”.
Nicholls, who admitted that he had to hit the ground running given the many challenges which the Board faced, said that Government was setting out to make the organisation a money-making machine.
“We are involved in a detailing of all Transport Board buses to find out why they are off the road and what problems the ones on the road are facing and what are the technical challenges, so we can make decisions about repair and replacement of the fleet,” Nicholls said.
“We are also in process of rolling out a commercial strategic plan. We have to pay our creditors, who have held strain for a long time, and we will look at the rolling out [of] a new commercial plan where we would be looking to get back into the chartered market and marketing of customised tours, which is something the Transport Board used to make money out of.”
He added that because of shortage of buses, the board had to come out of that market or reduce its involvement.
Nicholls also pledged the board’s commitment to assisting the disabled community, pointing out that this had fallen off because the buses retrofitted for the disabled were also in disrepair. (MB)
Read the full story in today’s Sunday Sun newspaper, or in the eNATION edition.