Transport workers protest for safer buses

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Members of the Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union protesting outside of City Gate in Port of Spain on Tuesday. – Photo by Joey Bartlett

TRANSPORT and Industrial Workers’ Union (TIWU) members held a protest demanding safer buses outside City Gate in Port of Spain, on Tuesday.

Union representative Kurland Peters said the workers were protesting against being forced to engage in actions that break the law. He criticised Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) management for what he described as mismanagement and negligence.

He said, “Workers are fed up. We have buses that need to be fixed. We want to carry the passengers, but we want to do so safely. We are frustrated with the poor state of the buses.”

Peters said some buses jeopardised public safety and called for necessary repairs to ensure safe and efficient operations. He said the safety of the travelling public was of utmost importance and workers did not want to compromise on that.

“I am not an engineer, but I am speaking on behalf of the angry workers that are out here who are seeking that redress. Management knows exactly what is taking place with these buses and is apparently refusing to fix them. We need the buses to carry people.”

Peters said the union’s request for properly functioning buses was not unreasonable and an efficient service required PTSC management to fulfil its responsibilities.

He said the union had been actively communicating its concerns to the PTSC general manager Patrick Gomez, but many issues remained unresolved.

Peters said the public would not be affected by TIWU’s protest.

Placards made by Transport and Industrial Workers’ Union members at their City Gate, Port of Spain, protest on Tuesday. – Photo by Joey Bartlett

He said the union was holding the government accountable for its promise to provide 300 new buses.

In a June, Newsday reported that the PTSC planned to increase the number of buses and routes by the third quarter of 2024, aiming to have 500 buses servicing over 160 routes.

Currently, there are 187 buses operating on 79 routes.

At the time, Gomez said supply-chain issues had caused difficulties in acquiring parts, affecting bus availability.

He said the PTSC was implementing a rigorous maintenance programme to keep its existing fleet operational.

He added that the average chassis age of PTSC buses was 12 years.

Gomez said the corporation was working on revenue collection from tenants and exploring additional advertising options.

He said PTSC was considering an app for customers, and the new buses would have cameras.

He said there were no usable recovery vehicles and buses were either troubleshot on-site or towed to a depot by third-party contractors when they shut down.