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It has become clearly evident over the last several months in 2014 that the public transport system that serves the route from Kingstown to Richland Park is proving itself quite inadequate at moving the daily hundreds of commuters who rely on this service.
The passenger vans, and few big buses, which operate on this route are now almost certainly full on every trip. This is unfortunately true for trips into and out of Kingstown. From as early as 6:30 in the morning, these vans are full. If you were to talk to any of these conductors they will surely tell you that they spend most of their hours standing up in these buses.
The communities of Richland Park and Mespo by themselves have a combined population that is able to full the vans that run this route. There are sufficient working class adults as well as school children to do this. Marriaqua has several educational institutions, including three of the country’s leading secondary schools.
This situation is compounded by the fact that along the Mespo commuting route quite a number of other villages have persons who must depend on a ride from a Mespo van/bus. What it means now in the existing environment is that passengers who live in La Croix, Belmont, Fairbairn and Fountain are usually left to endure the daily torture of being saluted by the ominous horns of passing vans which signal their inability to carry another passenger.
Let’s also remember that the main road in Belmont has been closed for several months now and such an inconvenient closure has added further unwanted stress in the lives of the travelling public on the Mespo route. And there seems to be no immediate signs of a reopening of that Belmont main road any time soon.
There are time a Mespo van will not take passengers along the route, particularly during peak hours, simply because the van is avoiding going to Little Tokyo. This is a matter that really warrants address by the relevant authorities responsible for overseeing the public transport system. The majority of the Mespo vans are turning back at the Peace Mo’ area. When it is after 3 p.m., many of these vans don’t even get to reach Peace Mo’. They are full at the Murray’s Road area.
More and more passengers are walking farther and farther “up the road” to catch a Mespo van. And the authorities seem mum on this. But what happens to people who are unable to walk “up the road” or have groceries or other items which will make walking up a challenge?
Or is it that the authorities have no problems if passengers decide on their own to change the designated bus stops or end-point of the Mespo route.
It is so bad now that passengers who are waiting in Arnos Vale or Fountain in the hope of catching a van to Mespo usually wait in vain because every Mespo van which passes, is already full and the conductor is standing up. So now many of these passengers simply cross the street and catch the Mespo van on its way into Kingstown. The result of course is that the van is then full or almost full by the time it approaches the Murray’s Road area. There have been times when a Mespo van can only pick up one or two passengers when it reaches Murray’s Village Road or the Girls’ High School waiting area. And so it turns back right there.
As it is now, the demand for a ride to Mespo is far greater than the available supply.
The question is: How much longer will this continue before a mutually beneficial intervention is made? Because so long as this situation is left to evolve just as a private matter, something will have to give.
It should also be noted that there is another set of vans that ply this Mespo route; however, they seem rudely proud and determined not to carry Mespo passengers. I am talking here about the majority of vans that work in Greggs and Lowmans. I have had the experience of a Greggs/Lowmans driver bluntly saying “This is the wrong van for you”. In other words, get out and catch a real Mespo van. And, might I add, it is not just the words spoken, but the manner in which they were spoken.
What uncouth selfishness in a necessary privately-operated public transport industry eh!
Morning, noon and night, it is hard, very hard—sometimes impossible—to catch a ride on a Mespo van. Passengers along this route are suffering and being sun baked. Quite possibly, the Mespo route right now may be the hardest route in St Vincent and the Grenadines to catch a van.
By A. M. Daniel
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to email@example.com.