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New bus schedule ‘very, very close’

St George's residents were told a Government announcement about the introduction of a new bus schedule could come this week.

During the meeting, held on Tuesday night to discuss Government's plan to change the municipalities into quangos, several members of the public raised complaints about public transportation in the town.

Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, responded that an announcement could come “within the next 72 hours”.

He said: “We are very, very close.

“I hear some laughs, and that's cool. That's all right, but there was announcement in December that for the first time in 17 years we have a bus schedule coming, and we are on the brink.”

Mr DeSilva told attendees that the island's bus system had been challenged with maintenance problems due to a lack of investment for several years.

He added: “We are going to change that. It's going to take a little time.”

Another resident questioned if Government would reintroduce early morning ferries to and from the Olde Towne.

Mr DeSilva said it was being considered, along with the possibility of introducing a larger ferry to help improve transportation to and from the town.

He said: “We have been working on a green paper for some time with regard to transportation on the island.

“That should soon be ready for your consumption in the very near future, which will include all of our transportation in the country, whether it be the buses, whether it be ferries, minibuses. Anything to do with transportation.”

One resident raised concerns about the lack of transportation for those who come to St George's by ferry, saying that unlicensed “gypsy cabs” often pick up visitors.

Mr DeSilva said he had heard the complaints previously, and there seemed to be an opportunity for entrepreneurs.

He said Government had received 65 applications for 95 minibuses licences and, while there are just under 600 taxis, a significant number only do corporate work.

The Minister added: “We probably only have 200 or 300 taxis that are running on a constant basis, so we need to look at that.

“As we move forward with changing the transportation habits in the country, not everybody is going to be happy.”

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, also spoke after residents questioned the status of Longbird Bridge and Swing Bridge.

He said Government entered into a contract for new bridges to designed about a year ago, and the company is “expected to report on the next phase of the process” in May.

Colonel Burch also updated those in attendance about the Government's plan for water and sewage treatment in the East End.

He said: “You will soon see over in Southside where your sewage and water will be processed, with work being commenced to improve the infrastructure in anticipation of St George's utilising that facility that currently exists at Southside.

“It is capable of managing sewage for the entire parish of St George's. It also has the ability to expand in case you increase the amount of sewage you produce in St George's.

“We will be able to accommodate the new hotel which is coming online both in terms of their sewage and water needs, and that will generate revenue in order to continue the expansion of the infrastructure.”

Colonel Burch said given the size of the island, it did not make sense to have numerous sewage treatment facilities, so the Government hopes to improve efficiency and avoid the duplication of work.

Cabinet ministers Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Walter Roban and Zane DeSilva speak at a meeting at East End Primary School (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

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Published March 07, 2019 at 10:48 am (Updated March 07, 2019 at 1:49 pm)

New bus schedule ‘very, very close’

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