Today’s Editorial February 15: Time for good public transport

The time has come for Government to seriously address the topic of public transportation.

We applaud the road work taking place around Shamrock Road and even accept that there will be some glitches in traffic while the work is completed.

But what about the future?

With more than 30,000 vehicles on our roads now with a population of over 50,000 we can expect transportation problems to grow.

You can’t build yourself out of traffic congestion.

We reported late last year that the Cayman Islands can expect a population of at least 96,000 people in 20 years.

That influx of people will be bringing with them, or buying, automobiles.

We’re not sure Government can keep up with road building fast enough to accommodate so many people.

So now is the time to truly examine a proper public transport system.

While it may be true that many Caymanians won’t ride a bus, there are thousands of expatriates here who are accustomed to using public transport to get to and from work. Many of them would welcome – and use – the service here.

A simple way to start is to adopt a park and ride scheme whereby areas in each district would be designated for drivers to park their cars and catch a bus for the commute in to town.

But for any public transportation scheme to work, what we have now has to be vastly improved.

If the traffic burden isn’t argument enough for a public transit system, look at the ecological facts.

For every passenger mile travelled, public transportation uses less than one-half of the fuel of private automobiles.

Scientists estimate that public transportation already reduces emissions of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global climate change, by over 7.4 million tons annually.

Or how about the pocketbook issue: A study from the US Survey Transportation Policy Project reports that transportation is the second largest annual expense for families after their housing expenses.

That isn’t hard to digest considering expensive monthly car payments added on to insurance, fuel, regular maintenance and repairs.

Aside from impacts on the environment and money savings, spending time on public transportation can give you a stronger sense of community when you get to know those who are on the bus with you day in and day out.

A good, clean, efficient public transport system can work in the Cayman Islands.

We just need someone to make it happen.