PTU ignores bus complaints one year on

| 23/06/2020 | 69 Comments
Cayman News Service
Public bus at the George Town depot

(CNS): A passenger who made several credible complaints and provided documented evidence about drivers on the local bus routes last June was ignored, given the runaround and generally dismissed by the Public Transport Unit (PTU). And despite recommendations from the ombudsman, who found the unit was at fault, neither the PTU management nor the Public Transport Board have given the complainant any information or apologised for the way she was treated.

A year after the passenger made her first complaints to the PTU about bus drivers texting behind the wheel, not going to their proper destination or following the routes, reversing down main roads to pick up passengers and dangerously overloading buses with people sitting on the floor, she is still no wiser about what, if anything, has been done to address such behaviour.

The complainant said that after she filed her complaint, the PTU appears to have given her name to the drivers in question, who began victimizing and insulting her, refusing to allow her on the bus, or when they did refusing to let her get off at her requested locations.

But it took the PTU almost six months to answer the complaints at all. When they did, they put the passenger through an onerous process to file the complaints again and also asked irrelevant questions, such as whether or not the complainant was a work permit holder.

She complained to the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport (DATT), which is responsible for the PTU but still got nowhere. Claims were made that the complaints had been investigated but officials gave her no information, so she took the case to the Office of the Ombudsman, who found in favour of the complainant, informing her of this in a letter dated 11 June.

But to this day the passenger still has no idea what happened to her complaints or why she was treated so poorly.

The ombudsman’s office found the PTU’s behaviour amounted to maladministration and a breach of the law on three grounds. This included an unreasonable delay in handling the complaints, inefficient, bad or improper administration and a failure to outline the outcome of the complaints.

But although Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston found maladministration and issued various recommendations and directives to the unit, nothing has changed.

Hermiston told CNS that the aim is to resolve complaints in a constructive manner and help government agencies improve their systems, but there are no consequences for poor behaviour. She explained that while her office has extensive powers of investigation, it has no power to punish rogue departments.

“The Complaints Law provides for mediation of complaints but where a mutually agreeable solution cannot be reached, the ombudsman is limited to providing recommendations for improvement,” she said. “The ombudsman has no power of coercion and no power of enforcement.”

Hermiston said that the office does, however, employ “soft” pressure to get the recommendations adopted. She also noted that the office makes an annual report to the Legislative Assembly and can draw its attention to any difficulties.

“Ultimately, it is in the hands of the legislature to decide how to handle any lack of cooperation,” she said, noting that in general there is a great deal of cooperation from the civil service.

But the Public Transport Unit does not appear to have been cooperative.

The ombudsman failed to have the issue resolved via mediation. She opened an official investigation in February this year and when it was over, Hermiston supported all of the passenger’s complaints and documented them in a final letter about the case almost two weeks ago.

Supporting the complaint that there was no guidance for filing complaints, Hermiston said she had recommended that a complaints process be established that is clear, well documented and simple to complete and that the Public Transport Unit website is updated with accurate information about the complaints process.

Currently, there is no link on the website at all for complaints.

The ombudsman also found that the complaint was delayed without good reason and the process the passenger was required to follow was overly complicated and bureaucratic.

“Your ‘well written complaint’ should have been accepted and addressed without any additional requirements, particularly because no written complaints process was in place,” Hermiston said in her conclusion of the case.

Noting that she supported the complaint about how long it took the PTU to respond, she added, “Complaints should be acknowledged within days of receipt, not weeks.”

Hermiston directed the PTB to provide the passenger with written decisions including adequate reasons about her complaints adding, “I also believe that you deserve an apology and have conveyed this to the chief officer.”

However the passenger told CNS that she has received neither.

Meanwhile, Hermiston said this week that her office was aware of previous issues with the PTU, made before the ombudsman’s office was established, when hundreds of complains were released via the Freedom of Information Law. She said that more recently her office had dealt with only a few issues relating to the PTU and its board, which had been resolved.

But the ombudsman explained again that her powers are limited and change takes time.

“We have no power to make orders or to impose consequences,” she said. “We seek to resolve individual complaints and make recommendations to improve the overall system for the benefit of everyone. Systemic changes take time and require buy-in and commitment from within. Our role is to convince the civil service to make changes and improvements.”

Hermiston said the best way to do this is through constructive criticism and feedback. 

“We are a watchdog, not an attack dog,” she said. “We need to convince government, and the wider public, that real change is needed. We believe steady, sustained efforts to follow through on recommendations that will ensure improvements in public administration are the most productive use of our powers, and most reflective of the role of this office,” she added.

See the ombudsman’s closing letter in the CNS Library

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Category: Business, Government oversight, Politics, Private Sector Oversight, Transport

Comments (69)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cayman bus drivers are amazing.
    they will get out of their rout to take and elderly person closer to home, and will do their best to help out foreigners trying to find an address.

    The awesome way they carry themselves almost covers for the terrible lack of government funding and regulation that is supposed to take care of public transportation passengers and employees.

    Complaining about the drivers is bullshit.

    Take the issues to the government!

  2. Anonymous says:

    And the Ministry of DATT under Stran Bodden as Chief Officer is doing what exactly to solve this ?
    Very poor.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Guess Hew runs this Ministry?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Brought to you by Jokey Hew

  5. Anonymous says:

    And of course the PTU will have earned their COVID bonus for working so hard over the past few months!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Give the PTU a bonus too!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible, maybe, that Cayman might actually be a tiny bit shit?

  8. Anonymous says:

    So what DOES the PTU do? Anyone?

  9. Anonymous says:

    The worst drivers on the planet inhabit this rock. Overtaking in the middle lane, speeding, on their cell phones, stopping without indicating, no indicating at any time. But we can’t upset the ‘Taxi/bus Cosa Nostra’ …..WOTES MATTER!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Today I was almost hit by a police man on his cell phone. I was most upset, I felt like I should have written him a ticket!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Simple solution:
    Public bus system.
    Service driven and not money.

  11. ericjohnston says:

    I’m sorry, but the Civil Service and these government employees are there to serve the public and not the other way around. Someone’s head needs to roll. Today. Periodt.

  12. Juniper says:

    World Class!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Private sector board again.

      • Dottie Parker says:

        Actually, the Public Transport Board is mostly civil servants. Rosa Harris and crew are sitting on this board and doing what they do best…which is nothing.

        This may be outdated but it is all I could find:

        The Cabinet has reappointed the following persons as members of the Public Transport Board to serve at the pleasure of the Cabinet effective 1 May 2015:

        Director of Tourism – Chairman
        Commissioner of Police or nominee – Member
        Director of Port Authority – Member
        Director of Civil Aviation Authority – Member
        Chief Officer of the Ministry responsible for Public Transport or nominee – Member
        Mr. Markus Meuri – Member
        Mr. Andre Archer – Member
        Mr. Bessanio Dilbert – Member
        Mr. Wayne Kirkconnell – Member

        Dated this 9 day of June 2015

        Published in Extraordinary Gazette 45 of 2015 –

        • Anonymous says:

          Imagine. A board with the Commissioner of Police (or nominee) as a member overseeing a unit of government that is acting unlawfully, and all we hear from government are … crickets.

        • Anonymous says:

          i couldn’t agree more

  13. Anonymous says:

    No one should put a foot in a public bus, a taxi, or a charter bus without first checking its liability coverage. It must be displayed on a dashboard for everyone to see.

    Because if you are injured or, god forbid, killed in an accident, you and your loved one might end up with nothing.

  14. Anonymous says:

    In the real world no commercial vehicle would operate without adequate, required by Law minimum liability insurance.

    In the real world, NO Insurance company would provide coverage to a commercial vehicle, or its cost would be astronomical, if it had a fraction of violations listed in this article.

    Does every taxi, public bus, charter bus and school bus driver cary an adequate, required by Law (if such exists in Cayman)liability insurance?
    If so, what are the amounts per accident and WHO, what company, PROVIDES THE COVERAGE?
    Because, like I said, no sane insurance company would insure Cayman lunatic drivers.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t want this to come across with this but many of these drivers are from Jamaica predominantly where this type of driving erratically is just commonplace for them and they think they are doing nothing wrong. They have no training in common courtesy or even a decent dress code.

    I watched one day as one driver who was picking up passengers on West Bay Road was cut off by another driver who got out of his bus loaded with tourists, and starting cursing in his Jamaican Pataois the other driver for stealing his passengers. The tourists in both buses looked that they thought they were going to end up in some fight between the two..This is absolutely ridiculous and should not be tolerated. They speed and just pull over and pull out into traffic most times cutting traffic off and getting drivers mad..

    This is the time now to either train these bus drivers whilst we have no tourists on island and root out the bad ones.

    As far as the PTU, it is another area of bureaucracy and waste of money for the government that needs to be closed. PTU does not monitor or fine these rogue drivers. Video or photograph the bad behavior including the license plate and driver if possible and send it to the Police.

    • anonymous says:

      Many taxi drivers are the same. It just gives Cayman a bad name. If they are on permits their permits should be revoked and they should be sent home. Cayman needs to look closely at the type of people they are letting in. In 1980, there was none of this.

    • Anonymous says:

      They drive and act the same the world over. Half the reason Cayman is what it has become.

    • Anonymous says:

      And just who was it that hit and killed the JA doctor in 2017 by the airport?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Mr Banks has been milking this position for better than 10 years. what has changed?

    • Rick says:

      This is the worst run department in government. If it was the dump, it would be on fire everyday. Forget about complaining. I have reported many observations without any results, and I know the people. The laziest people in government works here. The drivers do anything they feel like doing and it is a disgrace.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Anyone wondered what is the minimum liability insurance taxi and bus drivers carry in Cayman?

    ****By the way ELSEWHERE, other than Cayman,
    the minimum limit is $5 million in coverage per accident and some smaller vehicles that transport passengers a $1.5 million limit.

    Vehicles registered as taxis must carry bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage of $125,000 per person, $250,000 per occurrence and $50,000 for (PDL) coverage, have continuous coverage even if the vehicle is not being driven or is inoperable.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know if this is the right document, applicable to taxi, public and charter buses, but here it is

      (2012 REVISION) says:

      4. 1 (d) covers liability-
      (i) of not less than 1️⃣ million dollars in respect of the death of, or bodily injury to, any person; and
      (ii) of not less than 5️⃣ million dollars in the aggregate in any one event:

      ❌However, pay attention to (ix) and (x):

      Provided that such a policy shall 🛑NOT🛑 be required to cover-
      (viii) liability in respect of the death of or bodily injury to a passenger on a motor cycle arising out of the use on a road of the said motor cycle;
      (ix) liability in respect of the death of, or bodily injury to, the hirer or passenger in or on a vehicle which is let out on hire;
      (x) liability in respect of the death of or injury to any person being a passenger in a vehicle, except such passenger is seated in a seat fitted to the vehicle by the manufacturer thereof for the purpose of accommodating passengers.

      Does (x) means if a passenger sits on the bus floor, he is not covered❓
      Does (ix) means if you are a passenger in a vehicle which was “let out on hire” you are not covered❓

      • Anonymous says:

        (x) means don’t sit in the back of a pickup truck. – If you’re sitting in the bed of the pickup truck, i.e., not a manufacturer installed seat, and the truck gets in an accident the insurance will not cover your medical bill when you’re thrown from the truck and smashed to the ground. So don’t sit in the back of pickup trucks.

        • Anonymous says:

          Got it. Thank you.
          Usually insurance companies not “vehicle insurance law” impose exceptions.
          Does this law applies to the government owned and run vehicles?

  18. Anonymous says:

    The freaking wonderland The Cayman Islands is.

  19. 7 Mile Thomas says:

    So, now I’m thinking there’s truth to the story I’ve heard for many years, the public transportation is “it’s a bus cartel.” Who can shed some more light on that characterization?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Typical Cayman…I’ve seen this in local businesses too. They can have mountains of complaints about one individual, but the people that complain are the ones that get punished.

  21. Big Pappa says:

    Solution: Fire everyone at the PTU for incompetence. It is appalling that they released the name of the complainant to the bus driver. Cayman Mafia.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fire a protected employee? Not gonna happen.

      And yes, releasing the name should be a prosecuted offense. Any wonder why more complaints are not raised. I guess the CIG believes in the Trumpian approach: Intimindate, bully, ignore, blame others, buy people off, take bribes, ridicule citizens. Please don’t let us follow this path.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes you think that if you keep attaching all attitudes to Trump then you may alter reality or people’s perception thereof. The actual reality is somewhat different.

        • Anonymous says:

          From 5:10 above.

          No intent to attach “ALL” attitudes, just those applicable – fair point.

          But, While I sadly suspect you are correct, that does not mean it is not inaccurate; as the narrative above reviewed, the CIG portfolio’s do resemble how “Trumpian” flunkies operate.

          If you are implying that to point out the similarities will encourage folks to have better impressions of these policies, I strongly disagree.

          Failed policies need to be unmasked and acknowledged. People’s perceptions CAN be better formulated if we do not ignore the obvious. I still have faith that”informed, educated” folks can make a difference with elections and future CIG movements. This is our only hope. The world is evolving, we are a small island within its midst. We need to hold fast to our heritage, but evolve to sustain this heritage and grow and integrate into the rest of the world. I actually believe we can do this.

          Stay informed, keep an open mind, don’t ignore the obvious, and most importantly, use your voice/vote/expression.

      • Anonymous says:

        Revoke permits, black list and destroy the life of the complainant. Just about sums it up..ahhhhhh Cayman.

        • Anonymous says:

          And everyone from the Premier to the Attorney General, the Governor to the Chief Justice, the Ombudsman to the Commissioner of Police, do nothing…

    • Anonymous says:

      cig civil service does not do accountability… nevermind firings

  22. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t a taxi driver hit a tourist on west bay road a few years ago? And all cig did was lower the speed limit, they didn’t even address the problem that’s prevalent with most of these drivers. THEY CAN’T DRIVE. They don’t follow road rules and are always stopping for people who aren’t even at the bus stop. They even stop in the middle of the road sometimes to pick someone up. There are bus stops for a reason. And a lot of them ripoff people as well.
    There’s been complaints for years and nothing’s happened. We need those bigger buses and better drivers neoww!!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Well, I wonder what the regulations are for Schoolbus Drivers, as there were and are a number of them on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac who drink alcohol in large volumes up until a matter of hours and in cases minutes before operating them with tens of kids on board and operating in the general public. Can anyone say if there are specific regulations for this situation and if operators of large vehicles or equipment differ any from the general traffic laws regarding driving whilst under the influence or impairment?

    • Compliants says:

      I had a quick review of the area in the Traffic Law that governs transportation. I did not see anything anywhere which mentions the PTU. What authority does the PTU have to investigate? It appears none. I don’t know but this sounds like a matter for the police.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sounds about right. Nothing has changed in decades.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Come on PTSB, you’re giving the rest of us a bad name.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the World Class Civil Service

  27. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for our world class civil service…

  28. Anonymous says:

    Taxis and buses on islands are such a load of crap, taxis charge too much and drive crappy, buses just are generally unsafe and terrible on the roads. I’m glad there’s no tourists for these people to price gouge… looks like they must live off their savings just like the private sector has been told to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      The drivers behave as if they are still in Jamaica.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was in Bermuda last year. Night and day compared to here for buses and taxis. I’m sure the system isn’t perfect over there but it is streets ahead of the mess we have here.

      It looks like we could learn a lot from Bermuda on this subject I hate to say, but we won’t of course. And I’m Caymanian btw before anyone suggests this is just another disgruntled expat venting.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Watch dog? No such thing. Watch dogs growl, command respect, and draw the attention of authorities to unlawful conduct.

    What we have is a toothless lap dog.

    We are accelerating at warp speed to third world chaos, all under the watchful eye of specially imported, highly skilled and very expensive experts who do little but say “oh dear, they are conducting themselves unlawfully.”

    We already freaking know that!!!!

    Who do we get to hold accountable? Who is in charge?

  30. anon says:

    What???? Complaints ignored and not addressed? Shocking!!!!

    I can remember a few times being on the bus and it being packed beyond the maximum number of people allowed on the bus, the bus going another route instead of the route it was supposed to go, the driver would delay the bus to wait for their friends, rude behavior from the drivers, fighting with other drivers for stealing their fares. The drivers have no clue how their trashy behavior looks to people or even tourists catching the bus.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well, for certain a Cayman citizen can drive the buses. If these are work permit holders doing this they should be fired and replaced by a Cayman citizen. This is one place ONLY a Cayman citizen should be hired. Just thinking about jobs for local citizens.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      And why do you suspect “a Cayman citizen can drive the buses…?” The issue is not “who” is driving, but their professional conduct. And quite possibly IT WAS a Cayman citizen; should they not be fired? (IF they can).

      You are implying that a Cayman citizen is a better and more professional bus driver than a valid work permit holder. Depending on the individuals, that may be the case. But as a rule, totally suspect thinking.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, the issue is not if the drivers are “Caymanian citizens” or “work permit holders,” it is how they conduct themselves on the job.

      Ultimately it comes back to a long-standing theme with our government: Not oversight, no accountability, no corrective actions, too many unqualified elected officials with their heads buried in the beautiful sands of many districts.

    • Anonymous says:

      2003. A lot of our problems are related directly to 2003.

  32. Anonymous says:

    These guys and taxis are the biggest danger to other road users.

  33. Anonymous says:

    All that and how fast they drive thru the windy roads of WB! These drivers are definitely not from Canada, Germany, . . . .

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