Transport Minister Renward Wells.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
CABINET has agreed in principle to launch a unified public transportation pilot project for route 17 with the United Public Transportation Company Limited, Transport and Local Government Minister Renward Wells announced during his budget contribution in the House of Assembly yesterday.
The pilot scheme will be launched next week.
Route 17, which covers areas in eastern New Providence, was first selected by the Christie administration as part of its own pilot project, but the plans never kicked off.
Yesterday Mr Wells said: “The public transit service will operate along the fixed route according to a pre-determined schedule. The service will be provided by modern, clean buses and users will board buses at designated bus stops or at other locations as directed by the ministry along the route. The service will operate seven days a week from 6am to 8pm with buses operating every 15 minutes. Five buses are projected to operate this service based on either a 60-minute or 75-minute round-trip time.
“A fare will be charged for all trips taken on the transit service. The fare structure is applicable to each one-way trip and applies to all customers. All fares are by exact change, cash, on a ‘pay as you enter’ basis. Fares must be deposited by the customer into a fare-box on the bus. Bus drivers may not handle or deposit fares on behalf of customers except when the customer is unable to do so due to a disability.
“My ministry will reserve the right to alter the fare levels, fare structure, to introduce zones and to offer fare reductions or to introduce alternate fare payment methods (tickets or passes) as it deems appropriate. This bus unification pilot will be officially launched next week.”
In addressing a unified bus system, the Minnis administration has sent mixed signals about its immediate plans. Although Mr Wells yesterday spoke about a “pilot project,” he told The Tribune a month ago it would instead be best to describe the government’s plan as a “study”.
“A pilot project is where you introduce something new (and) we are not introducing anything new,” he said previously. “I would have liked to have seen us have a card-less, cashless payment system as a part of this project, but it is not. What we will be doing is valuing what a bus franchise is worth.”