The survey, conducted by the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), measured accessibility, timeliness, comfort, information and safety of eight major bus routes, 31, 32, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 with Route 43 (Georgetown/Linden) delivering the best service with 68 percent.
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.
According to Patrick Thompson, MPW’s Chief Transport Planning Officer,the eight routes account for 67 percent of the total public bus fleet in Guyana, which amounts to 3,513 minibuses.
He made this disclosure on February 5, 2015 during his presentation ‘An Imperative for Public Transportation Reform’ at the 5th Engineering Conference at the Guyana International Conference Centre.
The Conference was held under the theme “Defending Guyana’s Development With Engineering Solutions”.
Public’s top five pet peeves
The Chief Transport Planning Officer gave a breakdown of the five most annoying scenarios passengers face on a daily basis: (i) the manner of soliciting passengers at bus parks; (ii) 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.
An estimated 60 percentage of Guyana’s productive labour force uses public transportation daily, Thompson said, which is widely available and fairly reliable. However, he acknowledged there are 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 explained.
He added 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 percent 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.