Bus passengers traveling to North Side are complaining that buses often fail to complete the route, dropping them off at Frank Sound or Old Man Bay.
Ali Beckford, 19, who lives in Bodden Town and works in North Side, told the Cayman Compass recently that, “There are a few [buses] that go up to North Side, but when there aren’t enough passengers or they don’t feel like it, they just don’t go.
“I have to use the bus to get around, and it is not reliable,” he said.
Durk Banks, director of the Public Transport Board, acknowledged that the Public Transport Board has received frequent complaints about buses not completing the routes, but he said inspections on the East End service had not found widespread issues.
Mr. Beckford said he just started a new job in North Side with Spinion, a lionfish culling business. He said he had been forced to call his employer to drive him the rest of the way on three occasions after the bus dropped him off at Frank Sound, instead of continuing on to the end of the North Side route at Chisholm’s grocery.
“It has made me late for work on a couple of occasions and I am concerned it could affect my job,” he said.
Maria Yapelli, who runs Spinion, said the business is expanding, but the lack of a reliable bus service to North Side makes it difficult for employees: “We have to know they are going to be able to get to work.”
She said Mr. Beckford comes into work an hour earlier in an effort to be on time.
“Sometimes the bus comes up to North Side and he is here early. Other times the bus won’t come up here and he is extremely late or we have to go and pick him up,” she said.
“I know other people are having this problem too. Many young Caymanians are looking for work. It is a difficult situation because they need a car to get to work, but they can’t afford a car unless they have a job. They should be able to rely on the bus service,” Ms. Yapelli said.
Mr. Beckford said it is easier to get a bus to George Town, where he is a student at the University College of the Cayman Islands. But even then, buses don’t always come on time or go where they are supposed to go.
At Chisholm’s grocery, where the North Side buses are supposed to stop, passengers often have to wait outside for a bus to eventually arrive. Kathy Bodden, manager at Chisholm’s, said, “One of the drivers is pretty good and usually gets there within about 15 minutes of the times he gave me, the others seem to arrive pretty randomly.”
She said people often complain that the bus to take them from North Side to town had not arrived. On other occasions, passengers said the bus had dropped them off from town at Old Man Bay or Frank Sound without continuing on to North Side.
Arden McLean, legislator for East End, raised the same issue about buses to his district during last month’s Finance Committee hearing. He said constituents had reported waiting for more than two hours for a bus to arrive.
Mr. McLean said, “There should be traffic jams in East End,” if the buses were actually doing the scheduled routes.
Mr. Banks, of the Public Transport Board, in response to questions from the Compass, said there are 25 buses assigned to the North Side and East End routes. Each one is supposed to fulfill a minimum requirement of four dispatches a day.
North Side legislator Ezzard Miller declined to comment on the issue.