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A number of omnibuses were parked at the Leeward Bus Terminal on Monday morning. (iWN photo)
A number of omnibuses were parked at the Leeward Bus Terminal on Monday morning. (iWN photo)
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Omnibus operators in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are today, Monday, withdrawing their services for the second time in two weeks over the government’s COOVID-19 protocols.

“We don’t have a definite period of time. Our intent is to withdraw it for as long at it takes to get the 12 capacity,” Royron Adams, president of the Vincentian Transportation Association (VINTAS), the umbrella body for omnibuses, told iWitness News on Monday

Some omnibuses withdrew their services two weeks ago after the government halved the number of passengers they are licensed to carry, but did not announce any concomitant subsidy.

After the withdrawal of service, the government announced that buses will get, for two months, EC$500 or EC$600 monthly, depending on the number of passengers they are licensed to carry.

A subsidy of the same amount was granted last year, when 18-seater buses were only allowed to carry 12 passengers.

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Adams, however, said that the subsidy was the only item on VINTAS’ “list of options” to which the government agreed when they met two weeks ago.

The option also included waiving travel tickets for picking up and setting down passengers other than at a bus stop, and the waiver of licences and insurance fees.

The VINTAS head said that the government also promised to review the number of passengers permitted to travel on an omnibus, in light of the pandemic.

“And we didn’t hear anything back from them on the capacity,” he said, adding that VINTAS has written, on several occasions, to the government which has never responded in writing.

“Even as the prime minister announced the intention to support us with a subsidy and his promise to have the Cabinet write to us with respect to his commitment, we still haven’t received that in writing,” Adams told iWitness News.

He said that if VINTAS had received something in writing saying that the subsidy support came on condition that omnibuses must work four out of the five weekdays — as Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves reportedly later said, VINTAS would not have agreed.

The omnibus business is unpredictable in that one does not know when an omnibus may encounter a mechanical or other problem and have to be off the road for a number of days, Adams explained.

“But, again, that was not sent to us in writing and those conditions were never discussed in the meeting.

“Like I said, we know several operators will not be able to qualify for the subsidy for several reasons. You may have an issue that arises in the week that causes you to be off the road for two days. There goes your qualification.

“Some guys may have their bus in the garage doing major repairs — gearbox, engine fix, seat repairs, other things. That would disqualify them. I am hearing that they (the government) will give consideration to them.

“But how do you give objective consideration to them? How do you know when a man is being genuine about those things? There is no real mechanism. So that condition is obviously a real issue for us.”

Adams said that some operators have tried to abide by the rule that mandates that they halve their ridership.

He, however, told iWitness News:

 “It is no secret. Every single bus on the road who tries to operate under the circumstance is breaking the protocol because it is the only way they can make any kind of money. And now that the police have stepped up their surveillance for omnibuses, it is clear that all operators are saying’, ‘We just can’t do it anymore. We don’t have a chance by breaking the law because police are out on the road, therefore, we just need to get our capacity back to a minimum of 12.’”

Adams further said that physical distancing is impossible in a bus and there is, therefore, no reason, why the government cannot allow 12 passengers in an 18-seat omnibus, as they did last year amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

7 replies on “Omnibuses withdraw service — again”

  1. Yes they have to live. Or you give them the make up that they need to survive. How can they run the buses without passengers. They also gave to put gas to run their buses.

  2. Michael james says:

    Why does the government allow these the buses to hold him at ransom just start a government run bus system it’s not that hard

  3. Calliaquaman says:

    Ralphie. Call up Grenadine Boats

    This type of behavior is unacceptable to people and economy interrupting services as you please with no Notice to Public in a advance time.
    Government must not bow to such attitudes fringes money grabbers who do Political Limbo. because it will have or leave indelible mark that one can or group can keepSVG hostage.

    The Owners are private.

    The Government have no Responsibility to commlt Tax Payers money to such because We the People have all right to Ride Free in the Vans just as how we did in Election campaigning from our funds directly or indirectly.

    Mr Van who give the power to strike for tax payers money and leaving us by the wayside.

    I am calling on the Government to bringing a fleet of Vans to run in Constituencies and manage by out side board.

    Mr Van man, Business all over is crying out and if all the business that is going under picked the Ministry of Finance and Prime Minister and Demand Covid Aid too because they are ones who keeps government alive you will not get any .

    Covid-19. Money was a mirage in Election time

    Remember the Goat Meat was In October to November.
    The money finished and.Covid was beaten to
    death do back to chichen bone.

    The Ministry of Finance already tell us that the Country is brokes and I cannot pay more taxes Mr Van man.

    The play

    Ralphie do a Bequia Run.

    Send two of the Bequia Boats to Chato picking people passing through the town and Camden Park I will like that game.

    Capitalism vs Socialism.

    Mr Van man Remember this Ralphie is not going to be provoke by anyone for He already got Space Prunit Vaccine from Russia.

    NO NEW TAX because i am already suffering from TAX-ITIS.

    My to cents

  4. SVG needs to see reality for what it is, when the bus is full, meaning all seats are occupied, you take the next bus. Busses can have a signal to let potential travelers know that the bus is full. From the looks of it, the Government is trying their best to manage the situation in the middle of this pandemic. Things have to be done according to protocol otherwise, it will just turn into a giant melee. Not to mention the traffic situation, the state of the pubic roads and the passengers’ safety. You can’t live like animals in the wilderness. Community service, like what you are doing, should be to the benefit of the people; you should get tax-breaks for it.

  5. All of this Covid fear and hysteria should now be reassessed since when they first started showing us people falling on their faces on the streets in China and rooms filled with old people hooked-up to ventilators.
    All of this has now been recognized by researching intelligent people as propaganda.
    If doctors or anyone tells the truth on Youtube or Social Media you most often get censored or deleted. “Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies”. Even though people are not dying like flies or falling on their face in the streets, the idea is to keep people afraid so we will continue behavior that benefits certain people and institutions; to destroy National Economies forcing governments to get loans. keep their children out of school so they cannot compete with the elites in the future and fast-track the world into the “Great Reset”.

    Maybe the government should just allow passengers to decide themselves if they want to ride in packed vans, pee their pants fearing they are going to die of this mild flu, instead of (in this case) imposing fake science on all of us.

  6. In 2001, this government used the bus men to hold the country at ransom. Now the bus men are holding this government at ransom. That’s how things go. Anyway, it’s high time we modernize our transportation system in this country with a well regulated, publicly funded bus service.

    Imagine being able to get a bus at any time between 5 and 11 at night. Imagine the kind of economic benefit that could bring when businesses can remain open till later and people can reliably go out on evenings without worry of how they going to get home. Comfortable seats. No deafeningly loud profanity laden music, poisoning the children and making them hard of hearing even before they get to school on mornings. Trackable buses using a phone app so that you can time when the bus will reach you and know if it has space or not. Visitors able to use the app to easily find their way around, visit more places, spend more foreign cash allowing more locals to benefit from them tourist dollars. Buses leaving the terminal at regular intervals to prevent you having to wait an eternity for the bus to “full before we leave.” No hot van, refusing to carry children and the elderly. No more racing with idiot man-children at the wheel because we hired responsible adults to drive the buses. No more “I turning back here” leaving passengers stranded.

    Just imagine it.

    Oh and functional and comfortable bus stops that you can actually shelter rain in, with good lighting, security cameras, phone charging ports, NTRC Wi-Fi and if space permits, a stainless steel restroom. Only steel will do. Vincy people vandalize everything!

    Services accessible by a card that you can put money on and beep at a terminal to get access. Easy. Tap the card when you get on the bus. Tap when you coming off. Money comes off the card. The app knows how many seats available on the bus.

    Who has this exact system? Taiwan!
    Who has an embassy here and would be willing to work with us to implement it? Taiwan!

    Who are a bunch of political cowards who fraid the bus men and too scared to develop the country? Apparently the government of St. Vincent.

    1. Those are good ideas, especially about the app. It’s something knowledgeable young people could make. But the kind of overhaul you are talking about will take real hard cash, expertise, and resolve. The tools are readily available and the expertise too. I don’t understand the billion-dollar experimental budget, GDP = 811,3 million with an account deficit of 50.7 million, and everything remains the same or have gotten harder for families while the 1 man show reinvents itself for 1.2 billions dollars.

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