As the nation returned to full occupancy for public transport on Monday, there are mixed feelings about the move from drivers and passengers. As expected, drivers were more enthusiastic about the change than passengers.
On the Port of Spain to San Fernando Taxi Stand, driver Adrian Hamilton said because of the distance involved, the drivers were willing to take five passengers instead of the six their vehicles were rated for.
“If we get five, we going with that. If people are there, we’re taking the full load but, if not, we’ll take five. The passengers have to behave themselves with me, when I say small up you have to small up. This is the US Navy here on this stand, no one gets left behind.”
Hamilton said the taxi drivers would like an increase but would not ask for one right now as they were able to make a living.
Chaguanas taxi-driver Ricardo Moona said people were hesitant to travel as they used to before the pandemic, as was he.
“I’m trying to stick with five, because even though they said we could go back to six, we’re now coming out of that Carnival stupidness they decided to do and I don’t think it’s prudent right now. If it’s a family or people living close together, I’ll make an exception.”
At the Curepe/Tunapuna Taxi Stand, drivers said passengers had not complained about having to go to 100 per cent occupancy.
Maxi-taxi drivers in City Gate for the Priority Bus Route from PoS to Arima said passengers were resigned to the fact that they had no choice but to accept it.
One driver, who asked not to be named, said, “People prefer the single person to a seat but it’s two years we suffering, almost three years. That’s what it was before the pandemic, but they’ve gotten so accustomed to spreading out that it will take time for them to get accustomed.”
One passenger said she was deeply uncomfortable with having to go back to sitting with others.
“I’m here for the last ten to 15 minutes and I can’t get in a maxi as yet, just being that uncomfortable with it. And it’s not just from covid19, I always preferred a single seat or I’d go on the double seat if travelling with a relative of mine.”
Another passenger also said he was deeply uncomfortable with the situation. He also asked if drivers would be decreasing their fares now that they were back to full capacity.
“If the occupancy going back to 100 per cent, then they could decrease the fare back to what it was before. Because with the fare going back to what it was, they would still make more money than they would make with the fares being raised. But if not, they could keep the occupancy at 50 per cent.
"Either ways, the maxi drivers are going to make more money but it’s putting passengers at greater risk for covid19 and people’s salaries not going up while prices go up, so that’s not fair.”