State-Run Public Transport System For St Vincent

(By Ernesto Cooke) – St Vincent and the Grenadines could soon have a state-run public transportation system; Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves disclosed this on Monday 15th March 2021

Gonsalves said he is actively for the first time since the ULP has been in Government contemplating such a venture.

“We are thinking of the state acquiring brand new buses, 25 seaters and a significant number of them”.

Gonsalves said this would be done to make a difference, whether in this budget cycle or next year. 

“Despite the problems of state-run bus services and these are problems across the region, and internationally, however, this COVID challenge has brought about an unseriousness in certain persons within the minibus business”.

Gonsalves said the country has to put in place other modes of transportation.

The Prime Minister on Monday also spoke to the requirements for such a public transport system.

  • One hundred new 25 seater buses.
  • Imported duty-free
  • Change the regulations to minus a conductor
  • Use tokens or a ticketing system

“Let us say that each of these buses without the duty cost you $100,000, one hundred of them would be ten million dollars, if you go to the bank with 3 Million, you would be able to borrow the other 7 Million”.

Gonsalves said these are broad concept ideas, and he is pretty sure the Government can get a good deal if a significant number of buses are ordered.

The Prime Minister said he always wanted to leave this as an area for the private sector. However, this is the first time the Government is actively contemplating such a move.

“I think that the country is demanding of me, the people, I have heard them, Ralph, you have tried for twenty years with this, we have gone along with you, and we are not denying that the minibuses made and are making an important contribution, but it is time”.

Gonsalves said Fifty buses could be placed on either side of the country, and those who wish to compete with you from the private sector can continue to do so in an even more stringent regulated framework.

The Prime Minister said the Government would also have to limit the number of years one can have for a bus.

“There are many minibuses in this country 15,16,18 years old; some are problematic”, Gonsalves said.

Ernesto Cooke

Ernesto Cooke has been a radio broadcaster for over twenty years; he was a news reporter at WEFM before joining News784. In addition, he has written for the New York Times and reported For the BBC during the La Soufriere eruptions of 2021.

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Comments (24)

  1. This Prime Minister is sickening. He is making himself the enemy of the people. Vincentians wake up and see this man for what he is- spiteful, callous and simply devilish. COVID has really exposed the truth about some people. I’m appalled at his declarations in some of the articles published here on this website. How can this be the prime minister of a country? He is clearly fighting against the citizens. Prayers needed for this country’s deliverance from this tyrannical devil.

  2. That will not last .the government is not discipline enough to manage a public transport system.The busses will never be on time.They will always be breaking down and can’t get fix.When the government get broke they will keep on raising the fare.This will cause a big issue between the government and the private mini bus owners.The government need to learn how to improve their GDP by increasing the export of goods and services so they would be more financially viable to take care of the citizens in times of uncontrollable circumstances.

  3. Only Gonsalves seems to have a vision in moving this Country forwards. Vinci’e people very ignorant , always resistance to change. Get with it people. A government run transportation system will be great for the country Tell me where are Vincy people when the minibuses go on strike . Everyone get stranded. They are holding your transport in their hands unless you can fly
    . It really hard to be Vincy when you read these small minded ignorant comments

    1. Obviously you never heard of public transport system in Trinidad, Jamaica, USA ( subway) withdrawing their service, leaving large sectors of the populace stranded. This system cannot be run by central government. Look at the state of our hospital( MCMH), schools, government Ministries and many other public infrastructure. They are insufficiently funded to carry out their mandate much less maintain the structure. Look at all the equipment from Argyle Airport? Remember the port fiasco of last December due to a non serviced crane. Remember prisoner exscape due to weak point in roof. Look at the vehicle Left in ruins at Police mechanic ( remember when you call Police infamously state that they cannot respond due to lack of vehicle. They are poorly maintained and managed. Government have multiple school buses, how many are currently operational
      It will have to be a statutory body which is tantamount to what exists now.

  4. Seriously…….. Congratulations even to think that this move is being contemplated. Some people do not like progress, but it is a correct strategic move for the time……. It is about time to let the chickens come in to roost. Most of the other Caribbean countries for decades have had an entrenched public transport system profitably running. The minibusses would serve as competitors to keep the system going in the right direction. They could also do many more profitable small runs and make traveling safer, less hectic, more efficient, pleasant, enjoyable, and with less noise pollution. You see when the tourism industry starts up again there would more diversity and more safety. The next step is the formation of a union to represent the public transportation jobs, industrial training programs for certified mechanics to keep the buses roadworthy, and certifying and licensing officers to ensure that the maintenance of the buses is standardized and up to date. This is another or employment for drivers and driver training, supervisors, inspectors and cleaners, and handypersons.

  5. This will be another LIAT
    Incompetence and inefficiency covered by increasing fares continually, not increasing efficiency
    all financed by the government favourite bank
    The citizens of SVG
    This is about more government control over the people, disguised as the progress

  6. Excellent thinking as usual Mr PM, I made a comment a few weeks ago, about this issue. It will solve a lot of problems, in the transportation sector. Time to eliminate those dirty little boys in the Mini bus industry. They are very abusive to School females, who are very vulnerable to circumstances. Please get it done ASAP, hire responsible people and introduce a serious schedule. You can even subsidies the fare, you have the ability, to do such thing, so the buses can attract passengers. Set up a Government run Gas Station for this purpose, or even better, try to order Electric buses.

  7. I read with much glee news that government is considering public run buses in SVG. This proposal has my wholehearted support. I encourage other like minded individuals to email and phone government officials to express their support for this much needed change. This would be one of the best things that ever happened to SVG and a God send. Please outfit the drivers in uniforms since this is a professional job just as a teacher or nurse in SVG is a government employed professional.
    I return to St. Vincent twice annually since I have built a vacation home there in the land of my birth. I don’t feel comfortable driving in SVG since I am accustomed to driving in New York and don’t feel safe doing so because of the differences in the location of the steering wheel and the difference in driving on the other side of the road. I take the vans instead and this is always my worst experience during my visit. I stand 6’2 and my legs and shoulders feel almost dislocated upon every exit of a minivan after adhering to the admonishment of the conductor to “small up yo self nuh man.” My girlfriend and I liken the SVG van experience to getting mugged in an old style telephone booth. I often ride overcrowded subways in New York City but at least I ride straight up like a sardine. On the SVG vans, I am curled up like a shrimp waiting to be infected by COVID. I prefer sardines to shrimps.
    If I am unfortunate enough to be seated near the door, I may have to exit and re-enter the van about 15 times between my voyage between Prospect and Kingstown; not to mention the breakneck speed that the vans often travel at and the deafening noise of the often profane music. If I have to go to an event far from my home late in the evening, there is no van for the return trip. This hurts the economy and nightlife on the island.Tourism is now the way forward so SVG has to upgrade the visitor experience in every possible way. I wonder if the Comrade and his wife can ride the SVG minivans and endure the van experience that the average Vincentian and visitor now endure on a daily basis?

    1. With my negative experiences in using minivans, I cannot wait for public transport to become a reality.
      We are definitely heading in the right direction.

  8. Congratulations 🎊👏👍 are in order for you sir, be strong, be encourage and be brave the mercies, and blessings of the Almighty God 🙏 be with you and your family now and all ways, blessings all yours from the Blesser above.

  9. St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not have the roads for this bus arrangement.
    Ralph Gonsalves does not like INDEPENDENCES, he likes DEPENDENCY. When you are independent in income
    and thinking, he CANNOT control you.
    This is your new master STROKE, Ralph. Donkey [JA] says the world is not flat, Ralphie.
    What donkey are you riding Ralph? How many donkeys, do you have on your plantation, Ralph?
    He is going to kill the private sector minibus business. They (the van drivers) should close down the whole
    country. Give Ralph a taste of his own medicine!
    When your back is against the wall, you fight like a rat. Kingstown has some BIG gutter RATS. I believe that there
    is one BIG RED GUTTER RAT, in the crowd.
    Ralph, the chicken is coming home to roost,
    Ralph Gonsalves, this is your last term in office. I can say this, confidently, and without reservations, Ralph.
    Ralph Gonsalves has no new ideas. This is about control and furthering the socialist agenda.
    I am very fearless and courageous.
    I shall NOT and shall NEVER surrender and or waive my beliefs now and or in the future.
    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making.

  10. Realistically the idea of a publicly run transportation is good idea that is implemented worldwide. However, most goverment run traansportation does not make money. We have to take a step back amd see what happened to our school bus system in st vincent. I thonk that venture was a failure .
    We dont have a good road network system to make sisch a.m venture suscessful. Our roads sytem would be difficult for larger vehicles to navigte safely In addition competition from smaller run vehicles will be an issue.Some of them may go out of business in the short term.Acquirng vehicles before fixing the roads is synonymous putting the cart bèfore the horse

  11. How are they going to manage this state run bus service when they can’t even fix the crane at the wharf? or when they can’t even maintain the Ottley hall ship yard or when people are backed up for months not being able to get their hard earned salaries? An easy reality check is to visit and compare the GDP of each of the surrounding islands to SVG. If you like you can go to the IMF site and see the same truth.

  12. I have read all the previous comments and this is the conclusion I’ve come to. I am a vincy living abroad for a while but I know St Vincent. There are issues in both the private sector and the government. Yes some minivans drivers do take advantage of young school girls who they give free ride for sex and because of the financial situation of many of these teenagers they take it. But Ralph does the same thing with the young girls. Some of the issues with the minivans that need to be addressed and dealt with are:
    1. speeding even in school zones
    2. loud music
    3. too crammed
    4. no schedule
    Make it such that if there are grievances the drivers cannot go on strike and leave people stranded and there needs to be some sort of fee control. If you strike you will have your licence suspended or fined or both. There needs to be an overseeing body that deal with grievances and matters of importance.
    Issues with the government that need addressing:
    1. police transport (I remember an incident where I was held at gun point then called the police and they couldn’t come because they had no transport)
    2. public infrastructure like roads, medical institutions etc that need maintenance
    3. All the others mentioned here like LIAT etc
    If the government cannot maintain what it already has how do we know it would be able to handle more? We have seen major incompetence or maybe it’s a mi na k attitude or mentality. Many families who depend on their minivans are going to lose an income. Is that being taken into consideration?
    The government has not convinced us or shown itself capable of these matters of responsibility so therefore I say no to such a move at this time. The idea itself could be a good thing but that would depend on a number of factors.

  13. Threats, spite and malice is the badge of a monster. Buses that big will be wrecked in the first month unless driven by owner drivers. Can you imagine driving such monsters on such silly unkempt pothole riddled roads.
    The drivers should go on strike again to hush his very stupid mouth.

  14. It’s a great idea to have a state run bus system like other countries some of these bus drivers think there on the indy 500 and the speed is just crazy so that would be a great idea

  15. Not a bad idea but instead of tokens a card that be either weekly biweekly or monthly may a better way to go.

  16. All I see her is gunsalve squeezing the mini bust operators out of business ,,cold hearted and inconsiderate?
    Instead of working to enhancing and regulating the public transportation with the minibus operators gunsalve working against them.cutting out their business,,sad state!

  17. This is quite simply malicious spite coming from the dynastical regime.

    Can you imagine this ULP government running anything like a bus service. They have failed at running everything they have touched and in many cases ended up destroying just about everything.

    First of all they need to repair the roads, and take out all the bends and curves, busses need straight stretches of road, our roads are unsuitable for bigger busses.

    The bus owners have always given in to fatsos demands, it is time for them to destroy the ULP government, they helped put them there, now they should get rid of them, even just him and his cousin.