Transport system will need to be 24-hour

| 10/01/2023 | 135 Comments
Mini-van used in the current public transport system

(CNS): Consultants engaged by the Cayman Islands Government to assess the county’s public transport needs are expected to complete their work by the end of this month or the first week of next, according to Transport Minister Kenneth Bryan. He also said that the CIG would need to roll out a reliable 24-hour service to ensure that workers are able to get to and from their jobs no matter what time they start and finish.

Deloitte was awarded a CI$200,000 contract to develop a public transport strategy with recommendations for a national government-run public bus system. Their report is expected to set the PACT Government on the road to a more effective bus service to help reduce traffic.

Calling into Radio Cayman’s morning talk show, For the Record, on Monday, where Infrastructure Minister Jay Ebanks was a guest, Bryan said that until the government had developed a new transport system, it could not begin to consider policies like import bans or restrictions on car ownership by work permit holders.

“The goal is to put in a system that is energy efficient as well as cost-effective that can help alleviate the problem of traffic,” he said, adding that government could not put any restrictions on what cars can be imported and who can import and own them until a more reliable public transport system is rolled out.

Ebanks, who is ultimately responsible for the current road construction projects, described himself as still being an independent member, despite being part of the PACT front bench. He said he supported the idea of banning some work permit holders from driving cars as well as stopping the flow of certain types of used vehicles. He said a committee had been put together to examine these issues, but he too said that could not go ahead until the public transport aspect was addressed.

Ebanks accused some drivers in the current bus service of not completing routes, leaving his constituents and those in the neighbouring district of East End stranded. While the bus system between West Bay and George Town is relatively reliable during the daytime on weekdays, the lack of a night service means that many people start or finish work too early to be able to rely on the existing system.

Bryan pointed out that the government needed to make the investment and roll out the system because workers cannot be restricted from owning or driving until there is a fully functioning reliable transport system.

Previously Bryan has said the consultants would talk to all the relevant stakeholders affected by public transport, including workers currently using the buses, the drivers, those managing the road systems and involved in tourism. He said a number of questions need to be addressed, such as changes to legislation and the best type of buses to use.

The minister has also indicated the need to consolidate transport issues under one umbrella. “We’re going to have to do that eventually,” he said during a radio appearance at the end of last year.

Bryan has told Deloitte that the PACT vision is for an electric system, even though he was aware this could prove to be a costly endeavour. He has also said that this will not be a speedy process and the ministry would do this the right way, not the quick way. “The public wants answers now,” Bryan said recently. “Unfortunately, there is a long process that has to happen.”

The minister has suggested that he will be looking to find the money for this project, which could be as much as CI$30 million, in the 2024 budget and has even suggested it could come from the Environmental Protection Fund, which was created for land conservation.

But wherever the money is sourced, it could still be several years before a comprehensive, user-friendly system is implemented. In the meantime, traffic is almost certainly likely to get worse, even with the new roads, unless the government takes other action such as the decentralisation of government offices, encouraging more home or remote working, staggered start and finish work times and the expansion of the school bus provision to all of the private schools.

While the government is considering a policy to reduce the estimated 300 cars that are imported here almost every month, Bryan said a reliable bus service that the public wants to use must be in place before the government can place restrictions on ownership and imports. He also said he would be outlining the findings from the consultants as soon as their work is complete.

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Category: Business, Transport

Comments (135)

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  1. sdfsa says:

    This is a disaster. The culture here doesn’t want a public bus system and won’t use it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS is slow in publishing the announcement that the NRA has a new Chairman. Maybe he will bring solutions to alleviate our traffic problems. Street talk though is that he has only been recruited to push through the controversial road in the North Side area which will destroy more of our remaining natural habitat and wetlands. I hope that he still has the good sense to stand for the protection of these islands as he once did and not join in the destruction and carelessness that is everywhere just for the almighty dollar. I want to hear from him real solutions for our traffic problems and not just building another road to shift the traffic jams to another area. Come on sir, we are waiting, watching and listening.

  3. Anonymous says:

    ““The goal is to put in a system that is energy efficient as well as cost-effective that can help alleviate the problem of traffic,” he said, adding that government could not put any restrictions on what cars can be imported and who can import and own them until a more reliable public transport system is rolled out.”

    Umm yes you can, like drugs, just say NO. Or at least not the tsunami insurance write offs from Japan. Or how about cars with actual MPH speedometers in them?

    • Anonymous says:

      Equating illegal drugs to the working man’s necessity for reliable transportation to and from work, is monumentally stupid. Just sayin’.

      • Anonymous says:

        @4:12, you missed 10:31’s point. They are just saying the government CAN do something about it and I for one believe they should. Stop/slow the importation of these cheap cars and force the use of public transport.

        • Anonymous says:

          Did they or did they not equate cars with drugs? Yes/No?

          “Force the use” of public transport? WHAT “public transport”? You mean the many big comfortable buses we have that regularly run almost 24/7 between Cayman Kai/East End to/from George Town and West Bay onward, and make regular stop and at hours convenient to shift workers? THAT public transportation? Hmmm…? Oh, darn, does not exist does it? Ya think that perhaps we need to develop it?
          But wait!
          I thought that is what the minister said needs to happen?
          Did I miss something?

  4. James Ebanks says:

    If CIG is serious about a 24 hour bus service, may I, in my humble and non-transportation degreed way make a few suggestions based on the experiences I have had using REAL 24 hour and more reliable public transportation from USA, Canada and England? I can guarantee the people that are making the decisions on the public transport in Cayman have NEVER used it which would explain why the have the, as the saying goes, red headed stepchild version we have.

    1. Give the drives a route and a time table, GPS the vehicles to make sure they stay on route and adhere to the times. This will mean a continuous flow of buses instead of them waiting for a full load at the GT terminal and the unofficial Lime terminal at Eastern Avenue and can pick people along the way who would otherwise be waiting instead of being stuck till a bus with space comes along.

    2. Monitor the GPS so as to stop them speeding and driving recklessly for the sake of literally 2 dollars.

    3. Install a payment card system so they don’t have to worry about cash, people could buy/refill them at gas stations, major and mom n pop stores.

    4. Hire the drivers as actual CIG employees and pay them a salary so the mad dash for a fare is eliminated and they would get paid the same regardless of how many people are on the bus. Maybe then most of them would actually obey the traffic laws.

    5. Create real “Park and Ride” terminals in all major areas including at least 2 in town, one for the Western goers and the other for the Eastern goers. That way people can park their cars in a safe, well lite and patrolled space and not have to worry about break ins and vandalism.

    6. Hire more drivers to keep a good flow going or use somthing other then the Japanese/Chinese mini-buses. Maybe those larger tour buses or the full size public transport buses simply for more seating capacity. More drivers could also mean the buses can be shifted around if needed at certain times of the day for heavier passenger loads.

    7. Install CCTV cameras in the buses to spot check safety violations. I have been on a bus in Cayman where the driver overloaded on passengers to the point he had them sitting on the steps just inside the door and actually standing in the aisle between the rows of seats just to make that extra buck. And yes I did report it but still saw the same driver repeat it a week later so obviously either nothing was done or they just didn’t give a damn.

    In the past week I have had buses riding my ass, cutting me off and speeding like bats out of hell and I admit, I drive over the limit 90% of the time but these guys make me look like granny on a Sunday drive.

    I would gladly save the $50 – $60 a week I spend in gas each week coming from up past Breakers each day to work as long as it was reliable and timely.

    And just incase the NRA is listening, you want a suggestion on cutting the East to GT bound traffic in half? Create a by-pass behind Hurleys that goes straight to Hurst Rd bypassing that entire stretch when you decide to continue the East – West Arterial to East End. People could take Frank Sound Road and use it instead of contributing to the bottleneck at the Hurley roundabout with an overpass over Crewe Rd connecting to the Linford Pierson Hwy and have Shamrock Rd flow through Crewe Rd. More roads leading to the Hurleys roundabout is NOT the answer and just shows you are stupidly wasting money.

    Just my thoughts on the matter.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The great irony here is that all the people posting opinions about how we need a public transport system are really advocating for EVERYONE ELSE to use the transport system. We will continue to drive around in our nice cars, thank you very much.

    The problem here is that cars are plentiful and cheap whilst roads are few and expensive. What we need to do is make the cars more expensive to use with licensing fees and tolls, and then spend the money on more roads and parking lots/garages. You can bet that there will be a lot less traffic on Esterley Tibbets if there was a $2 toll to get from Camana Bay to the Airport.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re not wrong, but obviously showing your privilege. Yup, I can afford to drive and will likely continue to do so even if there was a decent public transport, because I don’t do “public” anything if I can help it. But it really isn’t equitable to those that don’t make as much and really DO NEED to drive. Schlepping the brats people produce to and fro to doctors appointments, school, etc once really does need a car to do so or if you have a lot of tools for work. Seems unfair to those that can’t afford “your” tolls

  6. Anonymous says:

    The requirement for taxi meters in Cayman was made into law in 2003. Since then, the Public Transport Useless Unit has been “drafting” the required Regulations.

    Absolutely World Ass!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    CIG does not need to “roll out a 24 hour service”. CIG needs to organise and control a 24 hour service.
    30M of tax payer money is not required.
    Let the private sector run the routes under contract. Public sector can organise pass sales, bus stops, route times, etc. Busses can be improved over the next few years by the operators.

    • Anonymous says:

      I prefer the Bermuda model, where the service is owned and operated by the government.
      Just like the the telephone/internet service providers, the bus service contract must cover all three islands and all districts. I seriously doubt that a private service will want to commit to a service that provides 24/7/365 service in the Grand Cayman eastern districts, and the Sister Islands. That would require a substantial subsidy from Government, so cut to the chase and have government run the show.

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