Free public transport: Not the answer

Not too long ago, our Premier floated the idea of making public transportation free for consumers. What could be wrong with that? Encouraging people to leave their cars and bikes at home would clear up much of the traffic issues that we deal with in Bermuda.

But as one astute reader pointed out, the cost isn't as much a factor as convenience. Somebody living in Spanish Point, St. David's or certain parts of Warwick will never forego their cars because their options are currently quite limited. Bus service to those regions ends by 7 p.m. On top of that, the frequency of the buses is not great.

On top of that, buses are still subject to the same rush hour conditions as every other vehicle on the road. Most would rather be stuck in gridlock in the comfort of their own car rather than smushed up on a crowded bus with the assortment of noise (and smell) that makes a journey unpleasant.

So even with free public transportation, the majority of people will continue to travel by car into our only city and major business centre, bringing along their various traffic-related issues.

What I think needs to be done to truly alleviate the enormous traffic flow:

  • Improve the bus and ferry schedules. This includes extended hours of operation and frequency of vehicles.

  • If we're to drop prices (I think a nominal fee, say $1, would be appropriate) for bus and ferry, throw in increased fees for parking of private cars. Consider raising the license fees for private vehicles to help pay for the service of busses and ferries.

  • Develop new routes, or subsidize minibus services such as those which exist in Prospect to compliment regular government-funded public transportation.

  • Along with the extended hours, improve the safety aspect by ensuring lighted areas at all bus stops. Maybe even erect security cameras there as well.

Bermudians simply will not leave their car at home in favour of public transportation, unless they can get a comparable experience in terms of comfort, flexibility and safety. Price is not the issue.

IMHO.bm discussed this at length recently, and Limey also weighs in on an interesting development on the once-a-day ferry service out of St. George's which honestly doesn't make any sense at all.

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