'Grande' bus passengers suffering
This is an open letter to the manager at the Public Transportation Service Corporation (PTSC).
Please be advised that I am a very dissatisfied customer and will never be using your bus service again. Your staff is very incompetent and your overall transport service is ridiculous.
I attempted to use the bus service at 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 9, 2012.
First, there was a mass of people on the Sangre Grande maxi stand that evening, so I decided I would take the deluxe coach bus. Upon my enquiry of the service times for that bus, I was told there is only one deluxe coach bus for Sangre Grande. I was a bit disappointed, as I noticed there were four deluxe buses on the same stand and they were going to San Fernando, leaving 20 minutes apart in the peak periods, and half an hour apart in the off-peak period, as I was advised by one of your officials.
How can this be, when there is a mass of people who work in Port of Spain and live in Sangre Grande proper, Valencia, Biche, Plum Mitan, Coalmine, Manzanilla, Toco and Cumuto? Do you realise the growing population size of these areas? Ok, so that didn't upset me to the point that I was driven to this letter.
Subsequently, I purchased three transit bus tickets for the regular 5 p.m. bus and went in line to wait. As I stood there, I noticed a group of women and children between the ages of eight to about 45. There were a few senior citizens ahead of me, and one of your officials in a black uniform came and placed the group of people ahead of the senior citizens. The seniors got really annoyed and did not hold back their expressions of anger.
The bus came about 15 minutes late and everyone got on board. They were angry, but settled down eventually as we exited City Gate. While on the bus, we realised the bus we were assigned was the same bus which had previously shut down on Monday, September 6, Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8; and, just as this issue was being discussed, the bus en route to Sangre Grande shut down again just in front of the Vehicle Maintenance Company.
The driver was jeered by the angry passengers and eventually had to try to start the bus again and head back to City Gate, which he eventually did.
Upon our arrival there, the driver exited and advised a gentleman, who seemed to be the mechanic, of the situation. While we were all in the bus waiting, all we were told was that PTSC officials were "trying to see if they could get another bus" for us. There were no apologies for the inconvenience caused.
We all waited. While we were waiting, PTSC officials were peeping at the bus but, 15 minutes later, we were still waiting.
Eventually, I attempted to exit the bus and was told I had to get back on the bus, so I naturally enquired about how long again we would have to wait. I was told just a while again. To my amazement, the passengers on board got even more angry and a huge argument ensued among the angry passengers and I exited, followed by two other people.
At this point, I was extremely angry and believed the time I spent waiting and going through all of this agony might have been better spent getting a maxi-taxi. So I went to the office I was told was the customer complaints section and, while talking to your official there, she looked at me with a totally blank face and said I cannot get back my money and the policy is "no refund".
I would like you to know that a "no refund" policy applies only if a contract has been fulfilled and, clearly, it wasn't on your part, as the bus was already late and your officials were not sure if they could even have provided a replacement bus for us after the first one shut down.
It was rather insulting to know that as soon as quite a number of people got off the bus, your officials suddenly found a bus upon realising the utter disgust of the passengers who were walking out. This is very horrible service and, to begin with, things could have been a lot calmer had the PTSC officials been trained in efficient customer service and had your pool of mechanics been more reliable and effective.
Clearly, then, I would recommend to the Government the citizens of Sangre Grande welcome the prospect of a Public Private Partnership!