PROMISES to improve the efficiency of public transportation around Tobago has brought a sigh of relief to many, but Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce interim chairman Martin George is reminding authorities that commuters continue to brave harsh weather conditions waiting on the buses daily.
George said, “The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and Public Transportation Service Corporation (PTSC) need to move beyond the promises and deliver a better bus service for Tobagonians. Walking through Scarborough, along Wilson Road, I saw dozens of people waiting in the hot sun for the bus to come. Many of them were senior citizens and we need to treat our people better.”
George was commenting on the recent MOU between the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment (DIQE) and PTSC, where the THA will provide the expertise of mechanical engineers and technical officers attached to DIQE. In return, PTSC is expected to assist the division with the upgrade and use of a database system fleet management. The THA will provide a number of engineers to assist with PTSC operations.
Chairman of PTSC Edwin Gooding told Newsday this agreement came from the fact that the quality of PTSC’s work to the Tobago public has been affected. He said, “ It has not been what we wanted because of our inability to provide the reliability of the buses.”
However, George said more must be done to improve the full travel experience when using public transportation in Tobago.
“The little rundown bus shed is inadequate and insubstantial. Most people, therefore, are left outside in the sun or rain. Why can't we build a nice, large air-conditioned bus terminus with proper restrooms, WiFi, cafeteria and other facilities so that our citizens – especially our senior citizens – can be treated with some dignity and respect and be made to feel appreciated?”
In February, Secretary for the Division of Division of Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities, Clarence Jacob, during an Executive Council media briefing, announced the Executive Council approved funds for the construction of 30 bus sheds and shelters throughout Tobago by the end of 2019.
He explained one bus shed will cost over $15,000 and the shelters are expected to cost approximately $7,000. He said this project will be in collaboration with PTSC.
He added the construction of three public washrooms facilities – two in Scarborough and one on the East of the island.
Speaking to Newsday last Friday, Jacob said the repairs and placement of the sheds and shelters will begin in the Crown Point area. “These bus shelters and sheds will improve the transportation system on the island. We will have more discussion with PTSC so that we will place these new shed and shelters in convenient locations to the public.”
Last Friday, Gooding told Newsday construction on a new bus terminal in Tobago will begin by the end of 2019 and three new buses will be added to its fleet. He said all approvals to begin plans on the terminal were granted and there is currently a bid before the corporation. Approval for the funds for the construction of the facility and final drawing is in progress.