The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) plans to create “multi-modal complexes” in Trinidad and Tobago to generate more revenue, which its chairman, Edwin Gooding says, will help reduce the company’s reliance on State vis-à-vis public funding.
“This resort is going to have spaces for all modes of transport to hire like motorbikes, maxis and taxis,” he said, as well as bus service.
Gooding shared PTSC’s vision for transformation, which includes electric buses, expanded routes, greater use of technology, domestic tourism and environmentally friendly practices.
Although the plan is not finalized, Gooding said the identified locations for the complexes are Tarouba Link Road, San Fernando; Factory Road, Chaguanas; Rio Claro; and Sangster’s Hill, Tobago.
Each complex will also have a garage, including charging ports for electric buses, and commercial spaces for rent for business owners. He hopes that with the new innovations, the rate of satisfied customers of the PTSC will increase to 90% (it is currently 69.3%).
Gooding said that with this proposal, the PTSC can depend less on the government, since 90% of its funding comes from annual allocations to cover expenses which include: salaries, wages, pension, insurance, security and bus maintenance.
The company aims to become independent and, in the short term, is working to reduce its public funding to 70%. For the fiscal year 2021/2022, the Department of Public Works and Transportation received over $2 billion, of which the PTSC received approximately $14.2 million.
Gooding said the resorts will incorporate a ‘park and ride’ initiative allowing workers to park their cars anywhere and take a bus to and from work, instead of worrying about secure parking. .
He said the PTSC is committed to providing more reliable services to commuters in hopes of attracting more people to use the service.
The infrastructure cost has yet to be determined, but the San Fernando location has been assessed and an estimate is being developed. He said part of the design was to use solar power to limit electricity consumption. He hopes the proposal will be approved by the ministry and, if so, work can start this year and finish in 2023.
The acquisition of electric buses is also under development. In December 2021, Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan promised to add new electric buses to the PTSC fleet in 2022. He said an initial plan to acquire 300 electric buses had been changed to include a mix of electric and diesel vehicles. At that time, Sinanan could not give an estimate of how many buses would arrive this year, citing delays due to the covid19 pandemic.
Gooding said Business Day tenders were due to go out and while costs were yet to be determined, he hoped the first fleet could be brought in next year. Funding and approvals should be sought from the government. He said that with more buses, routes could increase from 79 to 163.
PTSC’s plans to provide better service include online services.
“We are also acquiring
an integrated smart transport solution, and it’s an IT solution that’s going to provide better bus scheduling, a better driver list and electronic ticketing, where you can pay with your (credit) card so you can access the bus anywhere,” he said.
“We would also have a mobile app so our commuters can track buses and know what time the bus is going to arrive.” This contrasts with the current system of physical tickets and the need to have them before boarding the bus. Gooding said an application has yet to be approved.
He said he also wanted to ease the hassle of passengers by arranging trips directly from Port of Spain to Point Fortin, Cedros or Siparia, with other areas to be determined, as there is high demand at peak times – 4h30-9h and 2h. -6 p.m.
As part of the initiative to use sunlight as an energy source, Gooding said the PTSC would try to limit its carbon footprint with compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and launched a CNG service station at City Gate, South Quay, Port of Spain hub in April. The company works with more than 200 buses, 71 of which run on CNG. Once approved, electric buses would further reduce reliance on diesel.
The PTSC also plans to use rainwater, which will be collected in 1,000 gallon tanks at all bus depots, starting with the South Quay terminal, to wash the buses.
The PTSC is also working to create artificial reefs with the help of the University of TT (UTT), which worked with the PTSC to determine if non-functioning bus parts can be placed among marine life without destroying it.
“We want to show that the material used to make the buses can actually be cast without affecting the plant and animal life around it.”
PTSC has also entered into agreements with National Petroleum Co Ltd (NP) and Solid Waste Management Company (SWMCOL) to ensure that used oil, tires and batteries are properly disposed of to be more environmentally friendly. environment. NP collects the used oil and through a call for tenders, a subcontractor is hired to recycle the waste. Oil that cannot be recycled is sent to an Indian company for disposal.
He said PTSC retreads its tires but those that cannot be retreaded are sent to SWMCOL to be discarded or reused. Bus batteries are also a source of income: discharged batteries are sold to the companies with the highest or best offers.
The PTSC plans to expand and renovate hangars and bus terminals as part of its bus stop program. So far, renovations have been carried out on the Curepe, San Juan, Tunapuna and Arima malls, with new wiring to be done at the Curepe and San Juan terminals. According to the 2021/2022 budget, the upgrades began in 2019 among other infrastructure projects which amounted to $7.5 million.
The PTSC operates 79 routes and some routes include residential areas such as Bon Air Gardens, Oropune, Maloney Gardens, D’Abadie, La Horquetta, Arima and Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas.
Gooding said he offers routes across the country, including to Blanchisseuse from Maracas and to Guayaguayare from San Fernando and Sangre Grande, but the most popular routes include Port of Spain in San Fernando and Port of Spain in Arima or Sangre Grande along the East-West Corridor.
The company also engages in domestic tourism. He created an Easter package in April called “Bus it to the beach and celebration,” which took passengers to Mayaro, Blanchisseuse and Manzanilla beaches for fares ranging from $40 to $60. He said the next step is to sell tour guide packages to hotels that will vary in price to generate more revenue and boost tourism.
The PTSC currently employs 1,600 people and has approximately 500 drivers.
Drivers are responsible for ensuring buses depart every hour during off-peak hours and every 15 minutes during peak hours. He added that a system will be planned and introduced to ease long queues at terminals.
On maintenance, Gooding said drivers are responsible for giving details of problems so buses can be assessed and either repaired or destroyed. He said there were an average of 40 stops a month and the company’s rescue response team brought stranded buses back to the depot.
Gooding said the company receives between ten and 12 customer complaints a month, but would like to see fewer. When PTSC receives reports of discourteous bus drivers, the report is documented, the drivers identified, and the Deputy General Manager implements disciplinary action.
“When we have problems with drivers, that’s when we have to act quickly, because the driver is the face of the company, and if we have courteous drivers, we will have happy commuters.”
He said PTSC’s communications team follows up with the person who filed the complaint to ensure they are satisfied.
Gooding told passengers and would-be passengers that even with the PTSC’s expansion plans, bus ticket prices will remain the same, ranging between $4 and $12, depending on the route.