I OFTEN WONDER how past and present sitting members of Parliament feel each time they pass citizens standing at bus stops.
I fail to accept that they don’t feel concerned or moved in any way by this sad situation, given that they must have a family member who relies daily on public transportation.
I no longer own a car and, as a result, travelling by bus is my main mode of transportation. Is it hard? Yes. Is it frustrating? Definitely. Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely.
Tears filled my eyes over the past four weeks as I was reminded of the unacceptable way we treat individuals who travel by bus. I stood by a bus pole in the midday sun and thought about how an elderly lady would manage in this situation.
Last week Thursday, despite having a large umbrella, my pants, shoes and bag were soaked while waiting in the rain for a bus. A friend and her four-year-old daughter were completely splashed by a commuter and I can only imagine how many more experienced something similar.
I stood in the Princess Alice Terminal awaiting the 11 p.m. bus and observed the inadequate seating and shelter provided. I was really thankful the rain didn’t fall. Let’s not talk about the lack of lighting at bus stops and the risk that poses to individuals.
Last December, when I did own a vehicle, I wrote an article titled Bus Stop Upgrades, where I shared my recommendations to remedy this situation.
1. Bus stops should be located in areas that are convenient and safe for all. Before a decision on the location is made, there should be consultation done with residents/business owners in the chosen area, the drainage unit and environmental division.
2. Where possible, those within the ministry responsible for siting bus stops should look for areas where there can be the installation of lay-bys and areas where pedestrians aren’t in danger of direct oncoming traffic. Where these areas don’t exist, the ministry should seek to create them.
3. The area where passengers disembark and board the bus should be non-slippery and designed so that there is no chance of water settling.
4. Areas surrounding bus stops should be free of bush and shrubs at all times and should be adequately lighted so as to give the public a sense of safety.
5. All bus stops should have adequate seating. For instance, bus stops in The City or in Warrens would have accommodation for more seating than in some rural areas.
6. All bus stops should provide shelter from the elements.
a. The sides of the shelter should be transparent and designed to provide maximum protection to citizens from the elements and possible splashing from vehicles, yet have good ventilation.
b. All shelters should have garbage bins.
c. The shelter should be equipped with LED lighting powered by a photovoltaic panel and controlled by a photoelectric cell.
d. All shelters should have steel bollards installed to protect the public.
e. There should be information outside all bus stops on which buses stop there. There should also be information inside the shelter outlining the route; frequency and time of buses; time of first and last bus; and a highlighted spot marking where you currently are on the route. Additionally, there should be emergency contact information and a contact number to customer service of the Transport Board.
f. There should be the introduction of electronic passenger information systems. Authorities would be able to communicate with the public through HD displays informing them on the location of buses in proximity to their location, any delays or irregularities and any urgent information pertinent to the public (transportation, national or otherwise).
7. Pedestrian crossings should be located in close proximity to bus stops and each crossing should have pedestrian stoplights.
8. There should be a team who is responsible for the maintenance and inspection of all bus stops.
This situation is heavy on my heart and I am willing, through my NGO, to partner with corporate Barbados or any individual to build one model bus stop as a start at remedying this situation (send me an email). A greater sense of care, sensitivity and concern must be shown to those who use public transportation. Please remember, you may not always have a vehicle.
• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email firstname.lastname@example.org