Pilot programme for unified bussing system to be rolled out next week

Some bus drivers say they are not convinced that program will work.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A pilot programme to test the idea of a unified bussing system in New Providence will be rolled out next week, according to Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells.

Wells made the announcement while giving his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate in the Lower Chamber yesterday.

A unified bussing system is a project which successive governments have tried their hands at introducing, but Wells said the new Route 17, which will operate seven days a week between the hours of  6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., will commence within the next 7 days.

“The bus service will be provided by modern clean buses and users will board buses at designated bus stops or at other locations designated by the ministry along the routes,” he said.

“Buses will operate every fifteen minutes.

“Five buses will operate this pilot service based on either a 60 minute or 75 minute roundtrip time.”

Bus drivers told Eyewitness News Online yesterday that while they believe the idea looks good on paper, they are not convinced the pilot program will work.

In fact, Korvell Colebrooke, General Secretary of the Bahamas Unified Bus Drivers’ Union said drivers won’t hold their breath.

“Countless ministers have announced that this programme will start, but to this date it hasn’t started,” he said.

Colebrooke also slammed Wells for hiring foreign consultants to draft the plans for the unified bussing system.

He claimed that government overlooked experienced public transportation providers who he said would have been a better fit.

“They hired a consultant that they’re paying thousands of dollars; and that’s a bit weird because they could have just come to the drivers to find out everything that is needed to unify the bussing system,” he said.

“Right now I feel this pilot programme is just really a distraction right now from what is really needed in this system.”

Colebrooke asserted that government needs to focus on other issues affecting the public transportation industry as opposed to focusing on what he said is a foreigner-influenced unified busing system.

“The weather is hot and it’s also rainy season; people have to stand in the heat to catch buses and old senior citizens are getting wet because there are no shelters at these bus stops,” he said.

He was supported in his assertions by Sadye-Maye Wallace, an elderly public transportation passenger.

“I think they need to give us some shelters and the benches should not be that far away from the bus stop,” she shared.

Last week the bus union teamed up in protest with the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union against government over a myriad of issues.

Taxi cab drivers have lamented for months now that changes to the license plates for taxi drivers were necessary.

Yesterday, Wells announced that permanent changes are on tap which will allay their concerns.

“My ministry has taken the decision to cause yellow to be the distinguishing color of taxi cab plates as it is generally accepted as the color of taxi cab plates universally and internationally,” Wells revealed.

Both unions await a proposed meeting with Wells slated for July 1st.