The public bus service that was promised decades ago is closer now to becoming a reality as Minister for of Transportation, Works, and Utilities Hon. Kye Rymer disclosed that the routes, bus stops and schedules are being worked on.
The Minister indicated his interest in ensuring that the Territory has a public bus service early in his tenure. To this effect a survey aimed at gathering public opinion on the subject was launched in June.
Now that the information from the survey has been interpreted the Minister announced during his appearance on the Honestly Speaking With Claude Skelton-Cline programme on 10 September that the public indicated an interest in the service. “From the survey it’s a service that is necessary. We have seen where a lot of persons said that they need it. We have already defined that we have 12 different routes within our Territory,” the Minister said.
Hon. Rymer pointed out that the idea is for the bus service to be an open entity for private operators with government oversight. In explaining the arrangement he said: “The decision would be that this is not a service that the government would be owning … The plan is to make sure that we have this service for the people of the Territory,” he noted.
The Minister said that the implementation of the service is moving forward. He announced, “the next stage we are going to get an input as to if we are going to tender out the service or the routes.” This decision would be made through public consultation.
As it relates to bus stops and sheds, the Minister explained that an Expression of Interest went out: “We had an Expression of Interest, we sent that out for persons if they are interested in owning, or erecting a bus shelter for the bus stop. That is something that you can own, you can advertise you can have additional services there.”
According to Hon. Rymer the Ministry is aware that there is an informal public transportation in the form of the private buses that ply the East End route. However, he said that the aim is to add other features to make the service formal. “The issue is, especially the route from East End we have a lot of different persons that offer service at this stage so we are planning to make sure that it is timed, that it is a reliable service and persons will have a timetable, so you can know definitely when a bus is coming and one is leaving,” the Minister said.
It was further noted that bus fares will be decided by the Government to ensure uniformity of what the public is charged for the service. “The government will regulate the service.” Further the Minister explained that persons will not be able to take luggage and bulky items on the public bus. “The taxi service would still have its role to play, which is quite an important role.”