By Farrah Johnson
TRANSPORT and Local Government Minister Renward Wells said he is looking to launch the pilot programme for the unified bus transportation system by the end of the month.
Noting that the agreement for the programme is being reviewed by the government to ensure that the administration “crosses their t’s and dot their i’s,” Mr Wells said all of the challenges regarding the pilot project have now been “worked out”.
“The agreement I understand has been signed by the AG’s office now,” he told The Tribune.
“The PLP left a building where the project was suppose to be managed from, unfinished with loads of issues that we had to solve, which we have done.”
“We had to ask for an extension on the IDB grant for the project, which has been granted, and so by the end of May, the bus unification pilot project will be up and running,” Mr Wells said.
Still, the minister said that the upcoming programme should be considered more of a “study” rather than a pilot, and insisted there should be a “differentiation” between the two terms.
“A pilot project is where you introduce something new [and] we are not introducing anything new,” he stated.
“I would have like 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.”
When asked to comment on the Bahamas Unified Bus Driver Union’s complaints regarding inadequate bus stops, Mr Wells admitted that there are “few” areas to place them, due to most houses in New Providence being built so closely to the roads.
“At the end of the day, if the government is going to install bus stops, that will need to be a part of the overall unified bus transportation system that will come,” he said.
He added that the government may also have to evaluate how they “acquire portions of property” in the country to create more bus stops along routes.
Mr Wells insisted there were still other options available.
“We may not because where we end up putting bus stops throughout New Providence may be in places where it's government-owned property -and we can get away with it - rather than privately owned,” he explained.
He also referenced the American public transportation system, making mention of the “little distance” most bus passengers have to walk in order to reach the bus stops there.
“Right now [in The Bahamas] we have a system where someone just steps outside their house, a bus is passing, they flag [it down] and the bus stops anywhere in the road,” Mr Wells said
“We’re trying to see how we can bring more order to that system and so a part of that will be designated bus stops.”