The Department of Transport in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank is seeking to modernize the country's public transportation system. Currently, the program is in its information dissemination phase. Members of the technical support team made an appearance on Open Your Eyes this morning to detail the phased approach to the modernization undertaking.

Eric Sanchez, Transport Planner, Department of Transport

"Another empirical study shows that more than ninety-eight percent of the bus fleet do not meet all safety requirements as would be necessary. So, we want to pin it there. And, that is the transition point as to what the ministry is saying. Look we need safer buses on the road and better transportation system. As such, we also need comfort to some degree. And, in order to have this comfort we are looking at four tiered approach. We are looking at a premier service that really will be for instance from orange Walk in the morning from six o'clock. You have five runs. Let's say one of those runs will be a premier service, a higher quality of bus. That will see an increase in fare. But that is for people like you who can afford a little more, the finer things in life. Second to that will be economy one. The economy one is the express bus we currently have. However, that will not see an increase in fare. But, what it does is allow for us to increase the quality of service in terms of the comfort, the efficiency and aesthetics. Second to that, third rather, is the economy two. What economy two is going to see is the regular bus or the current regular bus; however there will be a transition away from the general school buses to more coach type buses to more blue bird type buses. It may look the same but really the comfort is a lot different. Lastly is the regular runs, or the current village runs."

Modernization of Transport System to Take a Phased Approach

According to Trudy Joseph, the Administration and Procurement Officer, the modernization program will be rolled out in phased. She noted that significant these significant changes to the transport system will be realized in 2024.

Trudy Joseph, Administration and Procurement Officer, Department of Transport

"We want to do a phased approach. So, we are grateful to the operators that have already started to make some modernization and changes. You may have seen some newer buses that are on the road. The whole idea is for us to get to where it is that we need to go, but first for us to understand that it actually requires having high capital. So, ideally what we are doing from the operator's standpoint we are providing them with additional information. If it is that you have an older fleet, you have higher maintenance prices. So, with a newer fleet, sometime newer, so what we are doing now is we are talking about expectations. So, come January 2023 we will see an increase in the modernization of the buses you currently seeing on the road. Not just newer buses, but we are also looking at the safety aspect. That will then extend all the way up until the end of 2024. So operators ideally have two years in order for them to get to where it is that the project information is stating that you need to get to so you can be sustainable, but also that there is safety for the commuters. On the other side, it also has to do with scheduling, which means reliability, which means I know that my bus will be coming in fifteen minutes that If I am not able to catch this one another will be coming a few minutes later, or that another will be sent."

Channel 5