For more than 15 years, bus driver Elard Myles has charged his passengers a local rate of $1.
Mr. Myles’ famous purple-and-blue “Dollar Bus” can often be seen on the waterfront picking up and dropping off commuters.
Mr. Myles, who in June celebrated 42 years as a bus driver, said he did not always charge $1. “Many years ago” he used to charge 50 cents a head.
“Well you see,” said Mr. Myles, “when I started out, it was to help the people that couldn’t afford to pay for taxis.”
Mr. Myles became a driver in 1974 having previously held careers in seafaring, public works, and construction.
“I used to run 12 hours a day,” Mr. Myles said. “I used to pick up Holiday Inn Staff and other hotel staff all at 11 o’clock in the night when they would finish work.”
And at 50 cents per person, “you could ride on that price as long as you didn’t get off.”
According to Mr. Myles, he was one of the first to offer a bus service on island. Later, with more buses on the roads, an unofficial board known as the “taxi association” was formed – years before the current Public Transport Unit formed.
“There were a few of us in the taxi association. Then the board came in afterward to get something out of it,” he laughed.
“You have to pay now to operate.”
In those days, said Mr. Myles, “each man owned his car, but together, we were working like an organization.”
When the government introduced the board, Mr. Myles noted that transportation operators were called in to attend several meetings.
In these meetings bus drivers were told to raise their fares from $1 to $2.
While some drivers were reluctant to hike their prices, Mr. Myles recalled other operators who were keen to increase their fares, as they had realized they could not operate charging just $1 per passenger.
Although he had been charging 50 cents at the time, unlike the others, “I told them then and there, I can’t raise my fare,” Mr. Myles said.
Mr. Myles said he resisted mainly because his aim was to assist those who could not afford private transport – such as taxis – and if he were charging the same rate as everyone else, he would not be helping much.
The board eventually decided that Mr. Myles would be allowed to charge $1.
Mr. Myles currently operates on the road in a 2003 Toyota, which he bought last November. Equipped with 25 seats, his Dollar Bus is rarely empty.
The bus runs back and forth from West Bay to North Side on weekdays, from as early as 6 a.m. through 7 p.m.
The bus does not operate at the weekends.
Mr. Myles, who is a Sabbath keeper, attends the George Town Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturdays. Sundays he dedicates to farming.
Mr. Myles, 77, was born in George Town in 1939. Known to most in the community as “Bobo,” there are several people who might still know him as “Earling.”
In 1972, the first Government Administration building in Cayman burned down due to an electrical fault.
According to Mr. Myles, who was among the many people to lose records, “when I got my papers back, [Elard] was the name they gave me. Elard Orling.”
That is despite the fact that the George Town native’s birth name was actually Earling Elard Myles.
To this very day, Mr. Myles says of the name he was given post-fire, “It’s still giving me trouble.”