Traffic Jams used to be a major threat to our economy. Way back when, those tourist surveys that Lou Peters used to conduct at the Chamber of Commerce told us so. One out of every three tourists brought it up as a reason they would consider vacationing somewhere else.
What we’re not talking about is…it’ s not as bad as 20 years ago, but it’s still a major problem. Did you know that the buses on the public roads are a big part of that problem? And is it just me, or have we again been witnessing an increase of bumper-to-bumber time over the last 5 months or so?
They say that pigs don’t know mud stinks. I’m afraid we’ve gotten so accustomed to doing things the wrong way, some of us no longer recognize right from wrong. Let me illustrate…
The annoying bus-ride
So one morning I jumped on the bus in Dutch Quarter. On that stretch, it’s customary for passengers to ask the driver if he can kindly head to Philipsburg through Cul-de-sac, instead of turning left at the roundabout in front of Eddie’s Auto Parts. A lady gets on the bus and says, “Cul-sa, please.”
No problem. that’s the way it works. Even if you’re heading for Philibsburg, its one of those unwritten rules that seemed to say, ‘Be courteous and sit your ass. One of these days you may have to reach Simpsonbay from Dutch Quarter too.’ I can live with that.
But between the roundabout and the T-crossing with Bush Road, traffic was terrible. The bus took 24 minutes before reaching near the gas station, where it normally pulls out of traffic by entering the gas station lot for passengers to transfer before the bus turns around, or heads back to Philipsburg via Bush Road.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, in front of Montana Snack, just 10 meters away from the gas station, the lady says, “Stopplease, driver.”
The driver, knowing that he’s going to stop at the gas station anyway, drives the 10 meters and pulls to a moaning stop. The lady says to the driver, “I told you stop at the snack. didn’t you hear me? Please take me back where I told you to stop.”
“You want me to turn back, Miss?”
“PLEASE,” she said, in a voice that reminded me of a strict school-principal I used to know.
That’s when I lost it.
There is no bus stop at the junction. Drivers are not supposed to stop there. Yes it’s customary to stop whenever a customer tells them, but it’s a favor, is it not? And it’s a part of our traffic problem–especially when the bus is obstructing traffic flow. I was sitting next to the driver and told him if he reversed the bus, he can forget my bus-fare.
He called my bluff and reversed anyway. I mumbled and lectured him all the way to Philipsburg, but still tucked my tail between my legs and paid him.
Do Traffic regulations apply to the passenger bus?
Some data would be interesting, but you don’t have to do any costly research to reach the obvious conclusion. The Link-One project did a lot to help our traffic-flow. Then there’s the proliferation of roundabouts all over the island beginning with the one in Cul-de-sac. The trend quickly spread even to the North Side. While many criticize, they HAVE been moving traffic along more efficiently than traffic lights.
The Causeway Bridge was another development that some people love, while others ridicule. It seems to depend on what politicians you tend to support,and whether or not the bridge helps your situation. Evidence is not clear that it helps everyone.
But there is one problem that no new road, bridge, or roundabout will solve unless we start buying private land to convert our roads into 3 or more lanes.
That’s right. I mean, sure…traffic accidents, narrow roads and delivery trucks also contribute to traffic slow-down. But it’s the buses that have to stop every 90 seconds. They stop wherever they see passengers. Many times they don’t bother to pull off on the side of the road. They also NEVER collect when passengers get on, so other drivers frequently have to wait while they give change.
This article was first drafted more than a year ago. When I pulled it up I realized some things had changed since then. There has been some movement where regulation is concerned. I was on a bus for several months while my vehicle was parked for repairs. Nowadays the buses all have a notice in clear view of passengers. The notice says, “Pay as you enter.”
Let’s give credit where it’s due. Whatever regulation made this mandatory for passenger buses, it’s an important step. Good work!
But on all of the 50 random bus-rides I went on between Dutch Quarter and Philipsburg, I counted exactly 3 out of 408 passengers entering, who paid the driver before taking a seat.
So the situation is still the same despite the regulation. More than half the time you’re waiting in slow traffic, somewhere up ahead where you can’t see, its a bus-driver without a conscience taking your time away from you without your permission.
A few of them are so ignorant and impulsive, you don’t DARE tell them anything… so you just sit in your car fighting your own road-rage.
And they never get in trouble for any of these violations. Some people believe it’s because of whom they work for. I mean, where are the traffic-cops on this one? In any case, if the authorities can solve this, we would see the biggest difference yet in how freely our vehicles can move on the public roads.
We should be seeing bus-drivers being ticketed for picking up passengers anywhere else besides a bus-stop…and they have to allow traffic behind them to keep flowing as they do so. We should also see them collecting their bus-fares when passengers get on the buses.
For now at least, forget how many of them are on the public roads, how many have licences, and whom they drive for. Let’s just start with the Police enforcing the traffic regulations.
Join the savvy SXM online community
Subscribe to get our latest content by email.