Public urged to report bad driving
GPS tracking technology could soon be used to monitor public bus drivers and ensure they are sticking to their routes.
Public Transport bosses have also committed to increasing enforcement amid concerns from legislators that dangerous bus drivers risk causing a serious accident.
Durk Banks, chairman of the Public Transport Board, facing questions in the Legislative Assembly last week, said a pilot program is being launched that could ultimately have GPS equipment installed on buses. He was responding to concerns that some buses – particularly those in East End and North Side – did not follow their designated routes.
‘More robust’ system needed
East End legislator Arden McLean said the country needs to develop a more robust public transport system. He said it is unfair to people in outlying districts that buses are not always available when they are supposed to be.
Mr. Banks said the board is working alongside the Lands and Survey Department on using GPS as a potential solution, but he said cost is an issue.
Moses Kirkconnell, the minister responsible for district administration, said he would look into accelerating the implementation of the program once the board fully investigates the costs.
Finance Minister Marco Archer raised a potential red flag for the plan, however, saying government would be entering a “gray area” if it agreed to pay for equipment to be used by private operators.
Cayman’s bus operators are essentially private businesses, though they are required by the terms of their operating license to fulfill certain obligations, including sticking to a specified route.
Ezzard Miller, the MLA for North Side, said the number 9 bus to his district frequently fails to go all the way to North Side. He suggested a low-tech alternative to GPS – requiring the drivers to sign in at Chisholm’s grocery store.
Driving standards questioned
Mr. McLean, backed by several other legislators, also raised concerns about the standard of driving from Cayman’s bus drivers. He said there have been several “near misses” and it is only a matter of time before an accident happens.
Mr. Banks said he was aware of the problem, and that the board had revoked drivers’ permits in some cases for repeated offending.
He said the PTB planned to require drivers to carry “how’s my driving?” bumper stickers with an email and phone number for people to report bad driving. The board is also seeking two new staff members to allow it to monitor and enforce driving standards.
The PTB handles up to 500 complaints every year about its drivers, though Mr. Banks said many were reluctant to make complaints in writing – a requirement if the board is to consider revoking someone’s license.
“That is why we are asking for more enforcement staff,” he added,
Mr. McLean suggested the bad drivers are largely work permit holders.
“These people are bringing bad, dirty driving habits to this country and they are going to kill innocent people,” he claimed.
Questioned later about the mix of Caymanians and permit holders working in public transport, including taxi drivers, bus drivers and tour operators, Mr. Banks said 593 of 687 employees are Caymanian, with another 27 here on permanent residency certificates. He said 69 percent of bus drivers are Caymanian.