Sunday, February 25, 2018

High hopes for PTSC Park and Ride

About  261 cars have utilised the Park and Ride initiative at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, up until December 30, said Ronald Forde, general manager of the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).  

In San Fernando, 29 cars used the service at the South Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA), which also ended on December 30.

On November 6, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz  rolled out the service which was intended to alleviate congestion, parking and wrecking woes faced by citizens as they searched for good Christmas bargains, gifts  and paraphernalia.  Among its features was an air- conditioned bus service at the cost of $20 per car.  

Asked for an update, via a telephone interview yesterday, Forde said: “We have had about 261 cars. I can’t say how many people. The concept is picking up slowly. At least,  about 261 people (in the cars) in Port of Spain and environs have begun to buy into it. A total of 290 cars would have been off  the road during peak time in the Christmas season.  We know it will take some time in the minds of the population. But we are committed to it to reduce the congestion on the nation’s roads. It is a big developmental objective of changing the mindset of the population.” 

Meanwhile, Forde said the authorities were looking at the long-term objective--a  permanent transport service. 

He added: “It is something we want to institutionalise in the country. We want people to gravitate towards the public transport system. We are intent on reducing carbon emissions. We are committed to the concept of Park and Ride.”

Cadiz had also launched the Park and Ride initiative in the southern city of San Fernando on December 4.

Cadiz said at that time: “They are using the SAPA at Lady Hailes and moving into the general shopping area. We are looking at Chaguanas next. I asked the mayor (Gopaul Boodan) to see if they could use the substantial parking area at the Chaguanas Corporation Complex and move people into the areas. Chaguanas is a popular area for shopping. People leave all over the country and even Caricom countries and go there. The flea market is a popular space.” 

Again, Cadiz reiterated the holistic plan for citizens to get accustomed to the idea of using a public transport service. 

He added: “We  really want to get our citizens accustomed to parking and using the bus service going into those areas. It must not just be for the Christmas Season.”

To get to San Fernando for the December launch, Cadiz said he had travelled by water taxi to get to San Fernando. 

After, he took a coach into Port of Spain.

“I enjoyed it. I travelled like everyone else. There were no special concessions because I am a Minister,” he said. 

During Christmas, Gregory Aboud, president of the Downtown Merchants Association (DOMA), said although the service “started slowly,” he expected the volume of passengers to increase. But he paid kudos to its efficiency. 

He said: “The Park and Ride Service is functioning exactly according to plan. The  buses have maintained the 30-minute schedule. The bus goes down Frederick Street, across Independence Square South and  back up Abercromby Street to the Queen’s Park Savannah. The public has expressed appreciation for the secured parking at the Savannah.” 

He added: “The service started slowly between 20 to 25 per cent and capacity has gone back 50 to  60 per cent. The popularity of the service is directly related to the security in the Savannah, reliability of the transit and the convenience of the route We continue to expect the service to become more popular.”

Former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing said: “I hope it works. I hope  more people will use it because  Port of Spain cannot accommodate the number of vehicles. Eventually, I expect much of the Central District will be pedestrianised. That is the way it is evolving in mature cities the world over.”