Thursday, August 9, 2012

Grenada Bus System

Grenada has an extensive road system, but the roads are narrow, winding, and the island is extremely hilly.

At first we relied on our fold-up bicycles, but we found the hills a little challenging for the bicycles and we couldn’t get far before one of the locals stopped us to ask about the bikes.
Also, we found the traffic to be a little daunting.
And, you drive on the left side of the road with frequent roundy rounds instead of traffic signals.
So then we found the Grenada Bus system.  We can get most of the places we need to go for $2.50 EC ($0.94 U.S. Dollar).
Courtesy of Grenada Board of Tourism
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending how you look at it, the Grenada Bus System has been upgraded to mini-vans retiring the colorful buses of yesteryear.
Main Bus Terminal in St George’s
The buses operate out of the main bus terminal and their routes are identified by a number in the upper right corner of the windshield.   Legally, the buses are only supposed to pick you up and drop you off at designated places, but we have found that to be universally ignored.  We have never hailed a bus because they hail you by shouting or honking or both, and we have never waited more than two or three minutes for a bus.  If you want a stop before a designated place, simply knock on the roof.
Unlike the colorful trucks of yesteryears, the Mini-vans are a little harder to identify because they are smaller and many don't have signs indicating final destinations.  These mini-vans, or mini-buses don't have a uniform color and don't run on a specific timetable, but you can recognize them by their number plates.  Privately owned buses have names and/or slogans, such as "White Invasion" or "Too much ah dem."
Many of the taxies are also mini-vans, but they do not have the number on the windshield, or a conductor.   The conductor is a young man that rides next to the sliding door, operates the door, take your money, and yells from the van soliciting riders.  It is also his job to ensure 20 passengers fit into a 14 passenger van.
We discovered the distinction between a bus and a taxi when a taxi stopped for us and then a bus pulled up behind and the conductor jumped out and admonished the taxi driver for trying to deceive us and steal his business.  Unlike in the states, the bus drivers and conductors in Grenada are highly incentivized. 
For special events, i.e., cooking class, we arrange for a private bus.  Above Shademan  is taking our $10 EC ($3.75 U.S. dollars) for a ride to a marina at the south end of the island that is not serviced by the bus system.
I am applying for the job as Shademan’s conductor.
The U.S. could learn a lot from the Grenadian bus system.

1 comment:

  1. Agree with you! Grenada-style buses could solve a lot of public transportation problems back home. Hope the new job works out for you, Mo. It doesn't look easy.