Our Readers' Opinions
November 24, 2015
It’s a good time to raise public transport issues

Editor: With elections fast approaching, Vincentians should take the opportunity to raise public transport issues affecting us. In the past, with regard to a mandatory minibus association membership, it was said that we can’t force people to associate, but this is a false notion.{{more}}Lawyers must be part of a Bar association; electricians must carry a wireman’s licence and doctors must be part of a medical association. I propose that minibus association membership be made mandatory. This would permit both greater control over harmful behaviours and give the association greater bargaining power. I also propose that all music and entertainment systems be removed from public minivans. These changes will make public transport in SVG more efficient and safer.

As far as harmful behaviours go, I am concerned by the loudness and content of the music played in vans on a daily basis. When one gets out of a minivan travelling along the windward coast, one’s ears are left ringing. The music, much of which is inappropriate, is turned up to levels where persons, including the driver, can’t hear what is happening outside of the van and to levels that simply hurt the ears. Even when one complains that the music is hurting your ears, the conductor pretends not to hear you, which at that point does not require much effort. If by chance “college girls” enter the van, the conductor flat out loses his mind, turns the music up to levels that can be heard from the moon. Madame editor, schoolchildren, infants and young adults have their ears assaulted like this every day of the week. After such a start to the day, can we honestly expect them focus and learn? It is not surprising that teachers find themselves having to shout more and more loudly in an effort to reach children. If this continues, we Vincentians will find ourselves facing an epidemic of sensorinural hearing loss.

Under dangerous behaviour also is the speed at which minivans travel. Madame, we have heard much about Pilates exercises recently, but I can tell you those exercises are in no way superior to the workout one gets while in the back of speeding van that is so heavily overpacked that students are piled on top of one another. The effort it takes to remain in your seat and avoid becoming up close and personal with the elderly gentleman sitting next to you, is down-right exhausting. The number of road traffic accidents and near misses at speeds 80-100 miles per hour conspire to make people more religious, at least while in a van.

Van men complain that fares are not high enough for them to make a living. This writer has seen vans pick up ‘college girls’ and young adult females in particular, from places like Biabou and take them all the way to Georgetown. The vans then bring them back down to the Villa flat area, while only charging them for the ride from Biabou to Villa Flat, if at all. This joyriding of the ‘college girls’ it seems, is done to prevent them from riding on other vans that might actually be going in the right direction. Madame editor, if a man runs his van like that every day of the week, how in the Creator’s ever-loving name can he expect to make a profit? Do van drivers and conductors understand their responsibilities to themselves and their passengers? One wonders if it is a social club or business? Clearly the people running the vans are not the owners, drivers or conductors, but the ‘college girls’.