Survey finds… Commuters not happy with service provided by minibus operators –rate Route 43 as having the best service

MPW’s Chief Transport Planning Officer, Mr. Patrick Thompson

A SURVEY of how commuters rate public transportation has revealed that only 41 percent of those polled are satisfied with the quality of service that is being provided.The study; loosely titled ‘A 2014 Public Bus Commuter Satisfaction Survey’ and conducted by the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), measured accessibility, timeliness, comfort, information and safety of eight major bus routes. They are Routes 31, 32, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45, with Route 43 (Georgetown/Linden) being rated the highest, in terms of service delivery, at 68 percent.

According to an MPW release, Route 31 (Georgetown/Wales) received a 55 percent rating; Route 32 (Georgetown/Parika) 41 percent; Route 42 (Georgetown/Timehri) 39 percent; Route 44 (Georgetown/Mahaica)
32 percent; Route 41 (Stabroek/South Ruimveldt) 31 percent; Route 45 (Stabroek/Main, Lamaha/Alberttown) 31 percent; and Route 40 (Stabroek-Kitty/Campbellville) 29 percent.
It quotes MPW’s Chief Transport Planning Officer, Mr. Patrick Thompson as saying that the eight routes account for 67 percent of the total public bus fleet in Guyana, which amounts to 3,513 minibuses.
He reportedly made the disclosure last Thursday during his presentation, ‘An Imperative for Public Transportation Reform’ at the 5th Engineering Conference held at the Guyana International Conference Centre at Liliendaal.
The Conference was held under the theme, “Defending Guyana’s Development With Engineering Solutions”.

The five most annoying scenarios passengers face on a daily basis, Thompson said, are: (i) The manner of soliciting passengers at bus parks; (ii) the type and loudness of music; (iii) buses being readily available during peak hours; (iv) adequate space (seating and leg room) and (v) ease of boarding.

He estimates that on average, 60
percent of Guyana’s productive labour force uses public transportation on a daily basis; he however finds that though they are widely available and fairly reliable, there are some limitations.
“The minibuses used [in Guyana] are not designed to public transport vehicle standards. With 15 seats, the vehicles are operating at the limits of their design capacity. Even minimal overloading is an unacceptable strain on the suspension system,” Thompson said, adding that “at overloaded condition, the vehicles’ centre of gravity will be elevated and when operated at high speeds, tend to become unstable and susceptible to rolling over.”
Further, the age of the buses is a factor. According to Thompson, many of the vehicles plying the roadways are between 10 and 20 years old.

Larger buses the answer?
In his presentation, Thompson informed the audience that minibuses have a marginally lower initial cost; however, other than this aspect, all the arguments, economic and operational, favour the larger vehicles.
“From experience elsewhere, the operating costs per passenger, per kilometer of the 15-seater minibus may be about 20 to 30 per cent higher than equivalent to the cost to operate the larger (26-30 seat) vehicle,” he posited.
Recommendations and reformation for the transport system will be reviewed this year, Thompson added, when a Sustainable Urban Transport Study for Georgetown commences.