Getting on board the PTSC

PTSC chairman Edwin Gooding - DAVID REID
PTSC chairman Edwin Gooding - DAVID REID

DEMONSTRATING a communications savvy rarely seen in state agencies these days, the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) on Wednesday ran a promotional campaign that seized the moment and drove home a strong point: taking the bus is cheaper than other options.

“Choose the bus and stress less during this pandemic,” the PTSC said in a social media post. “POS to Chaguanas $15.00 they say! We say purchase as much as 3 tickets and still have enough to buy a chocolate digestive!”

Maxi taxi operators, who this week announced an increase in fares, may have been rubbed the wrong way by this, given the current economic comparison, as may the vendors of chocolate digestive biscuits.

But it cannot be denied that the PTSC has made a strong argument for itself at a time when many commuters and others are running out of affordable travel options.

What remains is for the PTSC to show the same verve it has shown on social media this week in addressing other aspects of its operations.

It will take more than a clever broadside to convince sceptical commuters to rely on PTSC services.

As PTSC chairman Edwin Gooding acknowledged in an interview with Newsday, confidence in the efficiency and reliability of the service has dwindled over the years, for many reasons.

Buses need to be part of an overall public transport system that is fully rationalised and not piecemeal and ad hoc.

Passengers might be persuaded to take a bus if there were more regular and reliable journeys along better-selected routes. There should be better bus stops and improvements in real-time communications. For instance, in many countries, bus stops provide updates on the next available trip.

Mr Gooding has said there are enough buses to cater for any increase in demand that might occur as a result of price hikes by competitors, that is, taxis and maxi taxis.

But only a few months ago, the corporation was grappling with the management and security of its assets.

In July, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan told the Senate the PTSC was taking measures to protect the remnants of derelict buses after a fire at its Carlsen Field facility.

There are other issues, such as the need for environmentally-friendly buses, and buses whose specifications suit particular routes: smaller, more nimble buses might help cut down on traffic in a lot of areas. Even car owners might be persuaded to use clean, convenient, quick public transport.

Buses should also be subject to better standards in terms of the amenities they provide, as well as health and safety. Its track record may be good in general, but the recent incident in which a bus crashed into a house in Longdenville – thankfully there were no major injuries – underlines the need for the PTSC to keep its guard up, no matter how high maxi-taxi fares may climb.

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