The Rapid Rail To Gridlock

By Stephen Kangal

Rapid RailThe proposed Rapid Rail System (RRS) OR BOMBARDIER STYLE TRAMLINK would appear to be a done deal that has been concluded in the privacy of Cabinet without the requisite proper feasibility study (recommended by APETT) being conducted to determine whether it can really alleviate the escalating traffic gridlock that has enveloped most areas of Trinidad. This RRS is being bandied about even before the receipt of the Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) Comprehensive National Transportation System (CNTS).

There is no additional physical room along the Butler Highway nor compelling economic justification to build a North-South Railway Link. THAT IS RIDING ROUGHSHOD OVER THE PEOPLE’S MONEY.

IT WILL CAUSE AND AGGRVATE THE TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK

No evaluation has been undertaken of the relative merits of the bus, maxi-taxi and the road system of transportation. No thought has been given to the lengthy closure of the Priority Bus Route for construction of the RRS and how this will negatively impact on current road users who commute along the East West Corridor when the Interchange is also being constructed SIMULTANEOUSLY. Bombardier nor VINCI is aware of the traffic dynamics of the East West CorridorTransport challenges.

This is another fixation with expenditure in the sky (Monorail suspended on pylons) with no development on the ground. This is total madness that must be opposed after the $850 m Torouba Brian Lara Complex debacle.

NO CONSULTATIONS WITH STAKEHOLDERS

No public consultations have been conducted to take into account the views of the stakeholders and the tax paying community who will foot the massive bill. What will become of the Victor George Red Band Maxi Taxi Private Transportation link?

T&T IS A CAR BASED SOCIETY

T&T is a car-based society (1 vehicle for every 3 persons). The proposed RRS will prove to be a white elephant and counter productively a drain on the Treasury without contributing any real solutions to our traffic gridlock. Someone has to stop this decline into total madness and profligacy. It would appear that Bombardier that is the largest supplier of light railway rolling stock is behind this massive Government expenditure. Bombardier foisted this on Croydon Council in London.

THE PLANE-TRAIN NEXUS

There appears to be a plane-train exchange in sight. It appears that it will be a transportation system that will be run and funded exclusively by Government. Government has no record of running any transportation system efficiently. It will be a huge drain on the future tax payers of the country having regard to the vagaries of the oil/gas markets. The expenditure on the train is half of the current budget of $20bn and the recurring, running and upkeep costs are equivalent to what has been allocated to the entire Ministry of National Security ($3bn). These costs will escalate once the RRS becomes tied to a monopolistic rolling supplier of Bombardier in Europe.

T&T SINGLE BIGGEST INVESTMENT DESTINED TO BE A MOBILE WHITE ELEPHANT

The RRS will turn out to be T&T’s single biggest investment to the tune of $15-20bn capital expenditure and a $3bn recurring annual expenditure. This will completely eradicate the existing 250 Red Band Maxis that ply this route and put these people on the bread line although they have been providing a most efficient transport system at no cost to the Government. In fact Government derives revenues from these operators. Current PBR users will be decanted unto the CRH further aggravating the gridlock during construction. There is no plan to build the proposed Southern Freeway immediately.
How will this project fit into the take over of Regional Corporations of the implementation of Government’s policies?

DO NOT TOUICH THE JAM-PACKED EAST -WEST CORRIDOR FOR IT WILL CRUMBLE AS THE WORLD TRADE CENTER

One should not touch the existing EMR.PBR and CRH East- West Corridor transportation system. What is needed is the Southern Link Freeway (SLF) that runs south/North of the Caroni River and bypasses the CRH from the Barataria Overpass to way beyond the Piarco Airport with Connector Roads leading to the CRH, SMR etc. from various intersections. This Freeway will even have made the Interchange redundant and unnecessary.

TAX PAYERS MUST INTERVENE TO STOP THIS DECLINE INTO MADNESS AND PROFLIGACY

The population cannot stand idly by and see a CREEPING dictatorial Government squander the coffers of the State under the most profligate of circumstance. Without any technical studies being undertaken. The poor Red Band Maxi owners who have invested in expensive vehicles cannot be deprived in this arbitrary and uncaring manner because they have a reasonable and legitimate expectation that they would have been able to ply their trade. The equivalent of one light train vehicle is no more than 6 maxi taxis put together. The light railway will further aggravate the traffic gridlock in the East West Corridor from Diego Martin to Arima, cause chaos on the PBR and we wiill pay $20bn for this roving white elephant. A light railway needs a dedicated route unencumbered by other vehicular traffic. The construction of an elevated rail system is even more exorbitant. It is estimated that the T&T RRS will cost U.S. $ 3.1 bn covering approximately 78 miles at US$ 39.7m per mile.

The Parsons Brinkerhoff (CNTS) recommends the flexibility of the bus system as the next generation of transport.

Can the PBR be converted to this exclusive LIGHT RAILWAY purpose without causing traffic chaos and further and continuing wear and tear on the human personality and spirit of the travelling and commuting public?

26 Responses to “The Rapid Rail To Gridlock”


  • RE: “The Rapid Rail to Gridlock” by Stephen Kangal –
    Clearly Mr. Kangal is not faced with the insanity of citygate every evening, or the total madness to get transport to POS from anywhere on the east/west corridor between the hours of 5:30 am and 8:00 am where at times, particularly on rainy mornings, it can take commuters up to three hours to get to work in Port of Spain – sometimes having to take a maxi to Curepe first then hop another to town since all the bus route vehicles are only going “short”.
    “This will completely eradicate the existing 250 Red Band Maxis that ply this route and put these people on the bread line although they have been providing a most efficient transport system at no cost to the Government.” The maxi service is anything but efficient Mr. Kangal, and for you to even allude to it being so shows gross ignorance.
    I agree that replacing the bus route would not be a good idea. maxis do provide a valuable service to the travelling public. What you need to realise, Mr. Kangal that not everyone has a car and a vast number of people are forced to squeeze into maxi taxis with a crush of people around them touching and jamming against their bodies in ways that in any other situation would be punishable by law.
    An express rail – not replacing – but supplementing (perhaps underground or overhead) the bus route would make a dent. If the rail takes up those “6 maxi taxis” of people travelling express to Arima, and another one going express to Chaguanas and on to San Fernando, it would help considerably. At the same time the Red Band maxis will be able to ply their trade as they usually do for everyone stopping anywhere between POS and Arima which makes up a considerable amount of their passengers anyway.
    Like Mr. Kangal I don’t want the EMR or PBR interfered with in any way, but unlike Mr. Kangal it is clear to me as a commuter accostomed to both trains and local maxi taxis that a rail system could be a considerable relief to the travelling public. It would benefit everyone, and maybe fewer people will waste space and gas driving alone in a big empty car and instead jump on a rail which is faster and a lot less stress. Not to mention those who go through the torment at citygate daily will feel a lot less violated and a lot more human by the time they get home (hopefully in daylight hours).

  • This proposed rail system is a scheme hatched by the IMF, the World Bank, US Gov’t operatives & US Construction companies. Refer to modern day Ecuador for what could be the result of accepting the fancy US Economist charts that shows growth & gain for the populace. Unemployment will rocket, US Banks will ceased control of Trinidad’s economy and you all will be paying till the US Empire decide to let you off the hooks. History shows these people are the vampires, Trinidad’s oil fields, natural resources and control is what it is all about. Why the hatred for Hugo Chavez – he called them out on the carpet.

    The real benefactors of the drain of TnT wealth is & will be the few rich families, the Mannings, Pandays, and their like. Stop the craziness now and don’t relinquish control to the greedy Empire builders.

  • Mr. Kangal and many others who think like him are the reason why Trinidad is being left behind while the rest of the world goes forward. I live in Asia where the population is 20 times that of Trinidad, in a city where 4 million people commute into the city everyday, not counting the ones who already live in the city. Its a city which has not one but three light rail systems. I remember those days comuting from Arima to Port of Spain along the PBR and having to wait long hours to get a Maxi Taxi whose driver would let you know he’s going “short”. As costly as the rail system might be, it’s the optimum solution for Trinidad. The rail can be constructed as an eleveted rail along the PBR with the

    • plz dear not talk about trinidad being left behind because while the rest of the world is conforming to this american way of life… and suffering economically for it, trinidad is still debt free, we owe no one money, if any of you look at the economic history of trinidad the only reason why our dollars was devalued was when we did owe the i.m.f money, never the less this is a means for trini to become less economically independent, so plz refrain from speak such uneducated rubbish as trini is being left behind.
      however to be objective there are pros and cons of this expenditure and that is what should be investigated.

  • A Rail System for transportation of commuters in Trinidad and Tobago will help to alleviate the morning and afternoon Gridlocks on the HIghways and local streets; also it will help considerably to improve productitivy in the work place. Why? A less stressful worker is more productive, also it could be a contributing factor for better relatinships among families. However, the following actions shall be taken before any construction get underway: (!) An independent enviromental study (2) Public hearigs on the proposed project. In my opinion this method of transportation is long overdue for such a small country with so many motor vehicles. The intent of my comment is not to criticize anyone, but to offer a solution.

  • Mr Kangal and company should take off the ‘government hating’ blinders, and take a good look at what is good for the country. Cost aside, the idea of a light rail for the island makes more sense than this misplaced allegiance to the PBR, the EMR, the SLF, and the other acronyms mentioned above. I have no doubt that, given governments’ spending history, much of the money for this project will be wasted or stolen, but people like Mr Kangal could surely devise and institute the proper safeguards to minimize that. I will not deal with that in this forum, today. There are two relevant factors about Trinidad’s development that Mr Kangal should pay attention to.
    First:
    The Priority Bus Route is the right of way of the old railroad, which was scrapped in favor of automobile traffic. The PBR is ideally suited to recovery for return to that purpose. Extension of the system to the west of Port of Spain might present a challenge – not insurmountable, however.
    The considerations of the developers must be the peripheral support to the rail system, and the perfect throughway for the trains, ie., no conflict with any other traffic or communication. In addition, the median and shoulders of the North/ South corridor can easily be adapted to accomodate the southern leg of a modern MAGLEV or other rail system.
    Second:
    Lockjoint!! During the installation of the sewer system, the country was dug up – muddy and impassable for a long time. Vehicular movement was a crap shoot. But we endured. And, have the benefits over the years not proven to be worth the sacrifice and inconvenience?
    Look ahead, man. The future beckons. And when you do, think of a tunnel from Santa Cruz to Maracas Bay and the north coast – and that construction shouldn’t even interfere with the Saddle Road.

  • Stephen Kangal’s article “Rapid Rail to Gridlock” with its tacit acceptance of all that underpins the ills of T&T’s transport, “T&T is a car-based society”…. “The poor Red Band Maxi owners who have invested in expensive vehicles cannot be deprived in this arbitrary and uncaring manner because they have a reasonable and legitimate expectation that they would have been able to ply their trade.”, reminded me of a television interview I saw some years ago. Several years ago, when she was still alive, the BBC screened an interview with the late Margaret Mead, remember? the American anthropologist who did a lot of her fieldwork in the Melanesian archipelago, or thereabouts, between the wars. The interviewer asked her whether, in her post war visits, she had found that the local people and their leadership had received a negative impression of the Japanese and Americans as a result of their activities in that area during the 2nd World War, bearing in mind the large scale, and somewhat pointless, killing for possession of islands which, in the main, were immediately abandoned.

    Margaret Mead’s response was :-
    Definitely no, quite the opposite was the case. Most of the tribal peoples and their leadership understood the necessity, even in their little inter-tribal wars, to seize territory of no value to them simply to deny it to their enemies. What really impressed them was the scale of leadership and organization. When they witnessed thousands, indeed tens and hundreds of thousands of individuals all wearing the same uniform, and whose collective wills were being bent to achieving a common task, they acknowledged that they were observing a culture with superior administrative and leadership skills. After all, most of the chiefs and elders were painfully aware of all the long negotiation and “horse trading” necessary to bring their tribal groups together to achieve the simplest of collective endeavours.

    It struck me then, that this is the defining criterion by which to decide the degree to which a society had attained “developed status”. Later, the Germans, both West as well as East, tore down the Berlin wall with their bare hands. The West Germans were fully aware of the serious financial burden that the East would be on their economy, which had already started to plateau out. Yet they grasped the opportunity for reunification instinctively. Not so the Caribbean Man, judging from the responses of most Trinbagonians to discussions on radio and the press on the topic of Caribbean integration. Indeed I have come to the conclusion that we are not under-developed because we are small/micro states, but rather that we cling to being small/micro states because of our under-developed mentality.

    This mentality also produces side effects in other areas. Consider transport; the ability and willingness to organise a centrally regulated public transport system operating, conveniently, to a pre-published schedule both within cities and nationwide is the hallmark of every developed society. Reliance on a rag-tag of fiercely independent owner-driver “Mammy wagons”/“Maxi-taxis”/“route-taxis” without any form of regulation, central scheduling or organisation is a sure sign of third-world status. If we focus on this single aspect of human activity, and use it to classify all the regions/countries of the world, we soon find that we will have very accurately divided the nations of the World into two categories which coincide with the labels of developed and under-developed countries, normally derived from an examination of much more convoluted economic parameters. It is no accident that owner-driven route-taxis are to be found throughout most of the English-speaking Caribbean. It is no accident that the demise of the railway in Trinidad closely followed self-determination and eventual independence. The same inability to organise on a sufficiently large scale to make a workable centrally regulated transport system, is the same inability to organise on a sufficiently large scale to make a unified regional state. It is as much a failure of instinct, as it is a failure of will, as it is a failure skill.

  • Dane Morton-Gittens

    I am very much in support of a better transportation system, which will be cost effective and help alleviate the traffic problems in this country. However, a massive project of this scale will be a drain on the nation’s resources for years to come. I wonder how long our energy resources would hold out in the wake of such a system? When the natural gas and oil reserves run out, which according to many in the oil sector is very soon, what is going to run this “White Elephant”? Are we going to see an increase in taxes or Trinidad and Tobago borrowing money again from the IMF?

    If past governments had any foresight they would have refrained from getting rid of the railway system that once criss-crossed the north, south, east and west of this island. What they should have done was to upgrade the system and not gotten rid of it. Then we would not be in such a predicament as we are in today, but to try to correct this gross error now would only be to compound it. Perhaps this government should try to get us towards that mark of true advancement and progress, self-sufficiency, and let that be their new, rather than borrowed, glory.

  • Giselle Pemberton, NY

    I no longer live in Trinidad, I live in New York City. So maybe my comments will be discounted by a few of you.

    I am in Trinidad at least twice per year, and the traffic situation has gotten severely worse over the years. I think that a rail system would be a considerably positive impact for those who have to commute daily to and from work.

    It is a nightmare to travel the East-West corridor during the peak hours. The Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, even though it has been improved, is not capable of carrying the amount of cars that are now on Trinidad’s roads. An improvement would be to change all major highways in Trinidad to Freeways. The fact that there are so many roads crossing the highways of Trinidad is one of the man causes of the congestion on the road. The use of overpasses, underpasses, ramps etc. will be most beneficial in cutting down on the traffic concerns.

    For some reason, I am not sure why, but there always seems to be some sort of construction being done on Trinidad’s roadways during rush-hours and daylight time. Construction of that magnitude needs to be done overnight. We are not a people without resources and/or skills. Having construction done overnight will reduce the affect of either building and or updating our current transport system on the commuters who use these roadways.

    The addition of the rail system is a wonderful idea for commuters. As much as I hate the NYC subway system during rush hours, I’d hate to have to actually drive into the city. I think given the choice, most people would rather get on a rail system that came at regular intervals and had predefinied stops, and leave their cars at home. Something needs to be done in Trinidad and I think a combination of infrastructure changes as well as legal changes need to be done to keep the country’s roadways running smoothly.

  • While I don’t accept that what is good for the UK is good for T&T, the reverse doesn’t apply either. For a start, as a resident of Croydon, my only complaint about Tramlink is that it doesn’t go to more places, and isn’t completely segregated, as your proposed rail service would be. Bombardier didn’t foist it upon anyone. And why is Bombardier supposed to be worse than General Motors? However, perhaps the T&T government should have investigated the idea of a guided busway, something similar to what Curitiba in Brazil has – and some of the guided buses look identical to trams, if image is such a problem.

    So T&T is a car-based society – what society isn’t? However, once its oil reserves start to dwindle, will it still be one? What is it going to do, get Hugo Chavez to sell Venezuelan oil to it at cost price? If you really want a car, you can still buy one, like people in Hong Kong and Singapore do, despite the high costs of ownership – although with such clean, cheap and reliable metro systems, many do so as an investment more than a means of getting around. Singapore’s fleet is so new, it exports cars over twelve years old to other right hand drive markets – not bad for a country that no longer assembles them?

  • Bus Rapid Transit for Trinidad and Tobago?
    Every weekday, mornings and afternoons represent an inescapable challenge for persons trying to get into and out of the city of Port of Spain. “What the hell to do about the traffic, wasted time and crazy driving?” We seem to be fast approaching the point where there will be more vehicles than available road space. The taxis seem to disappear during peak periods, the maxis are driven crazily and more often than not drop passengers off at Curepe on mornings, and the bus company, PTSC, although finally getting its act together, certainly at present is incapable of dealing with the situation.
    As part of its Vision 20/20 the Government plans to spend millions of dollars to deliver a Tram? Subway? Monorail? Light Rail? Rapid Rail? Nobody seems sure at this point. What is to become of the Priority Bus Route? Trams, Subways, Monorails, and Lightrails have three major drawbacks in our current setting. Firstly the cost is daunting. Secondly, because they require special infrastructure, the implementation time from decision to first phase delivery is at least 28 months. Thirdly, any plan that, during construction will cause the Priority Bus route to be out of use during rush hours will result in untold chaos!
    The faster and less expensive alternative is a revitalised PTSC-run Bus Rapid Transit solution using a guided busway from Port of Spain to Sangre Grande and Curepe to San Fernando along the former Trinidad Government Railway Line.
    BRT as a traffic solution?
    Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a broad term given to a variety of different transportation systems, that, through infrastructural and scheduling improvements, attempt to use buses to provide a service that is of a higher quality than an ordinary bus line. Each BRT system utilizes different improvements, although many improvements are shared by many BRT systems. The goal of such systems is to at least approach the service quality of rail transit while still enjoying the cost savings of bus transit. The expression “BRT” is mainly used in North America. Elsewhere, one may speak of Quality Bus or simply Bus service while raising the quality.
    “Bus rapid transit” takes part of its name from “Rapid Transit” which describes a high-capacity rail transport system with its own right-of-way, its alignment often being elevated or running in tunnels, and typically running long trains on short routes of a few minutes. Because of the name similarity one tends to associate the merits of “Rapid Transit” also with the newer “BRT” expression.
    The BRT term encompasses a broad variety of modes, including those known or formerly known as Express Buses, Commuter Express Buses, Limited & Non Stop Buses, Limited Busways and Rapid Busways.

    What makes a BRT?
    These bus systems can come in a variety of different forms, from dedicated busways that have their own rights-of-way, to bus services that utilize ‘ Hire Only Vehicle’ lanes and dedicated freeway lanes to limited and non stop buses on pre-existing routes.
    An ideal Bus Rapid Transit Service would be expected to include some or all of the following features:
    • High-frequency, all-day service: Like other forms of rapid transit, BRT serves a diverse all-day market. Commuter Express Buses that run only during rush hours are not Bus Rapid Transit.
    • Bus-dedicated, grade-separated right-of-way: Right-of-way may be separated from all other traffic and dedicated to bus use. Such right of way may sometimes be elevated.
    • Bus lanes: A lane on an urban arterial or city street is reserved for the exclusive or near-exclusive use of buses.
    • Bus signal preference and preemption: Preferential treatment of buses at intersections can involve the extension of green time or actuation of the green light at signalized intersections upon detection of an approaching bus. Intersection priority can be particularly helpful when implemented in conjunction with bus lanes or streets, because general-purpose traffic does not intervene between buses and traffic signals.
    • Traffic management improvements: Low-cost infrastructure elements that can increase the speed and reliability of bus service include increased bus turnouts, bus boarding islands, and curb realignments.
    • Level boarding: Many BRT systems also use low floor buses (or high level platforms with standard floor buses) to speed up passenger boarding and enhance accessibility. Low floor buses offer better access to all passengers, including wheelchair users and pushchairs (like all parts of the bus, spaces in these areas are apt to be on a first come first served basis). Low floor buses should initially be allocated to the most popular services and those routes which carry most passengers, eventually expanding to other routes where practicable. Low-floor buses’, passenger compartment have a floor which is considerably lower than that of traditional models. A recent development in the transport industry, vehicles of this type have a stepless entry and usually have an area without seating next to at least one of the doors where wheelchairs can be parked. In addition to improving accessibility, low floors also allow fully-mobile passengers to board more quickly, and in some cases can produce improvements in overall speeds.

    • Improved riding quality with guided buses.
    • Increased capacity: Articulated, bi-articulated and or double decker buses.
    A BRT system may have a dedicated roadway in areas where traffic congestion is greatest or to bypass mixed traffic to reach the central business district (or “downtown”), but also utilizes existing highways and roadways where traffic is lighter to reduce costs. Optimally, such routes offer advantages over regular bus service with greater service frequency, increased capacity, and higher speed. BRT systems with an exclusively used right-of-way offer the prospect of a more comfortable ride than a normal bus immersed in stop-and-go traffic.
    The key argument in favor of BRT systems is that they can provide a quality of service similar to light rail or rapid transit systems, but at greatly reduced capital investment in vehicles and right-of-way. Key to this assumption is the utilization of existing streets, so that capital costs in these areas are only for the vehicles themselves and additional street furniture required for operation. Road maintenance costs are often not attributed to the bus service.
    BRT can be faster to implement and more affordable, flexible, and appropriate in scale than light rail. Buses also have a great deal of flexibility and can easily be rerouted when necessary.
    The possibility of incremental construction and implementation means that a BRT system can be easily tailored to meet the specific transportation needs and opportunities within individual neighborhoods and transportation corridors.
    In addition, bus rapid transit is often linked with intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and can involve special buses that control traffic signals, smart card systems, automatic vehicle location, dynamic message signs, and guided busways.
    Bus Rapid Transit Systems are currently in operation in Calgary, Halifax, Quebec, Montreal, Ontario, British Columbia, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Oregon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minnesota, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Seattle, Bogotá Colombia, Florianópolis & Curitiba Brazil, Santiago Chile, Barquisimeto& Mérida Venezuela, Lima Peru, Taipei, Hangzhou & Beijing China, Jakarta Indonesia, Nagoya, Japan, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane & Perth Australia, Auckland New Zealand, Nantes France, Schiphol & Eindhoven The Netherlands, London, Bradford, Plymouth, Berkshire Dorset, York, Ipswich, Leeds, Manchester, Colchester, Oldham, Northampton, Glasgow, Leicester and Crawley, in the UK.

    Bus Rapid Transit systems share many of the benefits of conventional bus and rail systems but also have a number of unique benefits.

    For the transportation system and the State:

    • A potentially less expensive transit alternative – Depending on the specific system design, BRT capital costs are lower than light rail systems with similar capacity and service level.

    • A quicker solution : Based on a combination of design, construction, and cost factors, BRT systems can often be brought online faster than comparable rail systems. Also, because BRT systems can be implemented in stages as demand grows and funds become available, they offer an opportunity for incremental system development.

    • An opportunity to take advantage of underutilized rights-of-way – Like light rail, BRT systems can take advantage of existing rights-of-way and areas for stations to maximize the efficiency of transportation solutions and minimize community and environmental impacts.

    • Community enhancements and economic development – Accompanied by complementary land use and zoning policies, BRT systems can encourage compact, pedestrian and transit-friendly developments that are integrated into the surrounding area.

    • Environmental stewardship opportunities – Through the use of clean and alternative fuel vehicles and the reduction in automobile traffic and congestion, BRT systems can help achieve air quality and other environmental goals.

    • Operating flexibility – Depending on the system design, BRT systems offer operational flexibility generally not afforded by rail systems, such as the ability to temporarily re-route BRT vehicles from dedicated lanes to general traffic lanes based on system conditions. And, BRT can operate express and all stop service on the same running way by having bypass lanes at stations.

    • A means to increase transit ridership in select corridors – By making high-quality transit service more accessible and customer-friendly, BRT has the potential to increase overall transit ridership. It also can work as an impetus to increase ridership on other parts of the transit system.

    Principles of Bus Rapid Transit

    • Move people as effectively as rail at a significantly lower initial capital cost and shorter implementation period.
    • Fully utilize existing roadways, rights-of-way, and station sites.
    • Take advantage of available technology (e.g., automatic vehicle location, passenger information, signal priority, and “Smart Card” type fare collection.)
    • Apply incremental system development, based on demand and funding.
    • Maximize operating flexibility
    • Change the mindset for bus transit from conventional bus fleet operations to state-of-the-art transit systems that are convenient, reliable, attractive, and comfortable.

    Components of a Bus Rapid Transit System

    A BRT system combines flexible service and new technologies to improve customer convenience and reduce delays. While specific BRT applications vary, the components may include:

    (A) Running Ways. Exclusive guideways or dedicated lanes that allow BRT vehicles to be free of conflicting automobile traffic, parked or stopped vehicles, and other obstructions thus maximizing BRT operating speeds. In some situations, BRT vehicles also may operate in general traffic, trading speed and reliability for flexibility. “Queue jumper” is a term that refers to short exclusive lanes at signalized intersections that are used to allow BRT vehicles to jump to the head of the line and bypass stopped automobiles and traffic. A fast and reliable travel time – When operating in exclusive running ways or dedicated lanes, BRT systems can run at faster speeds than conventional buses in regular traffic and even as fast as light rail. By offering frequent service and avoiding traffic-related delays, BRT systems can provide riders with a more reliable travel time. Critical planning and design parameters include the ability to safely support rapid, reliable service, with convenient boarding and alighting.

    (B) Vehicles – modern, low-floor, high capacity rubber-tired vehicles that accommodate high volumes of riders and fast boarding and exiting. This may include articulated and bi articulated buses.BRT vehicles often use clean fuels or alternative power. For a more enjoyable trip BRT systems generally use rubber-tired, low-floor vehicles with wide doorways and aisles that are easy to board and comfortable to ride. In some instances, BRT vehicles are designed to provide premium seating and amenities such as those found on a commuter train.

    (C) Stations – Farther apart than local bus stops. They range from protected shelters to large transit centers. BRT stations are located within the communities they serve and provide real time passenger information, easy access to pedestrians and feeder services.

    (D) Route Structure and Schedule – established to maximize direct, no-transfer rides to multiple destinations and to create more flexible and continuous service for local and express bus service. An easier commute – By providing frequent service into neighborhoods and commercial areas, BRT systems can minimize walking and reduce the need for transfers from one mode to another (e.g., from bus to rail or automobile to bus or rail). BRT systems typically have frequent, all day service. The routes are direct and easy to understand, maximizing directness and minimizing transfers. They services are integrated with, not a replacement for, existing local bus services. In a typical BRT system there are a variety of express, limited-stop, non stop and local service options.

    (E) Fare Collection – designed to make it fast and easy to pay, often before boarding the vehicle, BRT fare collection systems include the use of self-service proof-of-payment systems or pre-paid stored-value fare cards, such as a “Smart Card” system. Pre-boarding fare collection systems provide quick and easy access for commuters.

    (F) Advanced Technology – the use of advanced technologies (or Intelligent Transportation Systems) to improve customer convenience, speed, reliability, and safety. Examples include systems that provide traffic signal preference for buses at intersections and cross streets, as well as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to provide passenger information such as real-time bus arrival information.

    Irrespective of how these elements are put together, all BRT systems emphasize speed, reliability and identity. These features help BRT systems’ serve passengers faster, more reliably and attract new riders from cars.

  • I agree with Giselle there are to many roads crossing highways. They need to upgrade our highways dramatically. What they cn do is analyse highways from countries such as Singapore which is a country of our size or a lot smaller but still have about 9 highways. And the standard of their highways is up to the level of countries such as England. Firstly as Giselle said there are to many roads crossing the highway. What they need to do is make flyovers at minor intersection to connect opposite sides of the highway and connect these settlements to the highway via the nearest overpass connecting them to these overpasses via frontage roads. At major intersections build overpasses and underpasses.So on the Churchill- Roosevelt Highway Apart from El Socc. and Aranjez at Curepe/Vayaslyn, Piarco Airport, Arima, Wallerfield and just any other major intersections. Churchill Roosevelt shoud also be a three lane highway on either carriageway from Grand Baazar to Wallerfield( as the new Uni is being built there).The Solomon Hochoy need to be a six lane highway also, from Chaguanas to San’do. And from there its just a few minor details to improve them such as overhead signs, correct lane width to ensure that traffic can flow at up to 110km/h. Proper hard shoulders. Then once all that is done they need to build the proposed highways and also look at designing a few new highways such as Beetham highway/ Freeway extension from Beetham to Diego Martin which will bypass the congested CBD and wrightson road and go around the back by Maraval with a connection to Port of Spain via an expressway. It can be elevated but doesn’t have to be and will go though the Diego martion hills but the short parts of them. And will be a full six lane highway, grade separated, limited access with overhead signs and sound fences. Full lane width so traffic can flow at up to 110km/h. Also another highway project I have in mind is is the Trans Trini highway. A Four lane highway running through central Trinidad linking
    the North East with South west. Starting in Matura/ Salibea village on the east coast connecting Wallerfield and Sangre Grande also isolated central villages viaoverpass/overpasses/interchange, going straight through intersectiing with New Princes Town highway( with an interchange) and then going onto to merge with the new extended Solomon Hochoy Highway at Debe. Structered similarly to the Jamaica Highway 2000.

  • Can T&T really handle more cars on more roads. Light rapid rail seems like a no brainer to me having lived in London during the 1980’s – without having a car – and Montreal and Toronto since 1990. Seems almost every city in every deveopped country has some sort of light rail system. Almost 300 people suffer fatal injuries in accidents on T&T roads (yes we require better roads, policing and most importantly a more responsible atitude) annually. I looked at the figures put forward in the discussion paper put forth by the APETT and was disappointed in their approach. Much of the data was not relevant and many valid considerations were left out. I’d like to see a much more robust approach to the assessment but that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and I’m sure no such amount of money was spent on the preparation of the current material hence what is its value really ?

  • Ivor St.Hill’s response is priceless. Thank you sir, I just cannot stop laughing. You summed it up all so brilliantly !

  • Yes our highways seriously need upgrading especially where roads intersect the highways the highways can go down in these areas so that the roads run over them and each lane has an exit to the road this is one of the most efficent ways of doing this but we would have major disruptions while this work is being done so i say put the rails and then do this it will encourage people to use them while road works are being done,and if the proposed rail system is automated they can run 24/7 and therefore at odd hours people without cars can get around easily.

  • THE RAPID RAIN SHOULD RUN ON THE FORMER TRAINLINE NOW THE PBR, USE THE HIGHWAY AND ADD A NEW LANE FOR THE PBR, CHOO CHOO WE NEED VARIETY AND THE TRAIN IS WELCOME……………

  • With a population of only 1.5 million people i do not think that commuting by rail is neccessary for Trinidad and Tobago, however i think the money that is going to go to the europeans again for the construction of such a project should be invested in constructing better road networks with increased capacity and making cars more affordable to the population this will alleviate the congestion problems on the road and also improve the quality of life in the short and long term for Trinidadians.

    • I’m confused about this. We are not talking about a large or heavily populated country. Why would anyone want to transform the island into a concrete jungle of pavement? I admit, some of the roads need improvement, but more cars always leads to more congestion.
      What cars do we make? How can we make these cars that we don’t manufacture more affordable?
      A strong mass transit system is a plus for the nation. I for one do not wish to step outside and see gridlock and cars idling. I do not wish our sky to turn brown like that over U.S. major cities because of traffic congestion.
      Breathing in smog will shorten the lives and lessen the quality of life for Trinidadians which in the end will raise medical cost.
      We must be efficient. More cars and wider roads will not create the relief that we desire, but only add to the congestion problem and fuel prices.

  • I am on board with you re your fine commentary response Curtis.A well managed rail system presents more pros than cons for our economically stagnant country. Think of the job possibilities via the creation of an entire mass transit industry. I might be tempted to take the intransigent stance of Trinioneliner due to one of the following reasons:Firstly , I might be a taxi owner myself, or simply the President of the Car dealers/ manufacturers , and Taxi Drivers Association. Secondly, I have unquestioningly inculcated the cultural negative habit push by some of our leaders that opposed a novel idea simply because I could , and fearful that success might bear dividends to it’s originators. Tell Trinioneliner that UWI and Cipriani Labor college are offering Continuing education classes in economic , and he can perhaps grab a lesson in real world basic 1&1 economics of demand , supply and cost. Less demands for cars can accrue, if traveling folks are aware that an efficient , and financially beneficial mood of transport is available. The lowering of demands would ensure that those who must have , or still desire to drive can get a more cost effectively priced vehicle.
    The social returns can also be tremendous. Less deaths and carnage for one , due to sleeping , drunken , and out of control drivers. More productivity , as less stressed out workers can get to work on time . A more wholesome family life as they can return home on time for family bonding. Win/ win on all scores,as the list goes on.
    We might not get the Caribbean Courts of Appeal , or proper child safety ,national security, criminal justice , anti corruption,and other important legislations pass due top political gridlocks in our Parliament. It does not mean that we should endure gridlocks on our roads as well ,ably supported by medieval thinkers such as Trini Oneliner, and other conveniently placed spokespeople.

  • If you were the owner of one of the rich,agricultural farms which is going to be expropiated to make way for a project the country cannot afford at this time, you might have a different opinion.

    • TMAN- you do not know what I own. Is it definite that this project would be constructed in a way that would force people to lose a way of life? Is there not a possibility of above ground or underground railway sections?
      At any rate, we should not have the progress of a nation stymied by a few stubborn minds. We need smart growth and a dependable mass transit system. There has been talk of a struggling tourism economy. How can we sell smog to people who consume the finest smog in their own cities abroad? Let’s keep our country clean, green and make it more efficient.

  • No Curtis , he is absolutely right about this one. In like manner , folks without lands in parts of T&T ,should care less about those with 400 acres or more that are forced to pay exorbitant land taxes.
    It is why, he should commend the present government for trying to compensate with lands ,the children of slavey whose fore parents worked the sugar cane fields freely, now that sugar is dead in our country. This in essence would create an eve playing field.

  • Sugar is asleep but not dead. One only has to look at Brazil’s example on how to best use sugar. Not only that, the price of sugar is growing. Hawaii isn’t producing sugar and I believe that Florida production is dead or at an all time low. One would think that “Energy Island” Trinidad would capitalize on growing demand for sugar and sugar based ethanol. What about wind energy?
    I suppose the correct thing for me to do on this subject is to stand down until the proposed railway plans are made public. Then we would know who and how much landowners would be affected and what a proper compensation would be for land that is to be acquired by the government.

  • To you the people who welcomes the Rapid Rail. i have but one question for you: Are you willing to share your homes with us whose homes and communities are going to be demolished? i am very sorry for those who face the traffic to Port Of Spain but from my point of view our homes and communities are much more important that the traffic. i believe that there should be alternative suggestions to ease traffic but not a rapid rail. true we want to be a little america but how many citizens will be displaced/ so again are you willing to share your homes/ better yet if you say that i can have your home hell yes then maybe i’ll think about it.

  • Sometimes I often wonder as to what form of people oriented , caring spiritualism, are being taught in our various religious institutional fiefdoms across the nation, or if T&T teachers and our Ministry of education are still busy spending huge percentage of taxpayers dollars to merely inculcate our kids and future leaders with the skills to pass common entrance exams ,so that they can eventually find work as useless entry level jobs as government clerks , sell eggplants and bootleg CD’s along our congested roadways, or where fortunate, to become ungrateful post Trinidadian candidates for immigrant refugee status in European exotic regions abroad, with such lofty names as Canada, UK, and USA?
    Don’t worry homeboy gaytri, we your most caring fellow nationals do ‘have your back’- like they say on the streets- even if you think our politicians don’t, but first do something with this fictitious, gender bending name, will you? Just for that you will begin to loose points in my book. I simply despise all phonies, that choose to hide behind veils to disguise their selfish , greedy, what I like to affectionately refer to as ‘me, me , dog with a bone,’ mindset.
    Be that as it may, you are welcome to share a two room flat in John, John, where single parent sister Carmela with her six perpetually underfed kids , is trying to ensure that her 15 year old son can get an education, while eluding tempting advances of recently released from prison ,gang bangers, that rules the area ,under the watchful eyes of callous,uncaring cops.
    Better yet, there is a ‘lil room’ for you down in the Caranage area , which contrast quite nicely with the Eurocentric Westmoorings pristine, weekend yacht sailing enclaves. Don’t worry if your daughter occasionally get to school a bit late , due to substandard transport, we’ll tell MS. Shanday O’ Grady to take her time as she drive her expensive BMW across the muddy , rain soaked roads en route to drop off her high IQ kids to the private school in upper middle class Maraval . We cannot have you get Kaiti splash with water to start her day more wet , can we?
    How about this , 13 year old Jeni’s parents once had a home close to where the Priority Bus Route was constructed , but now they are in possession of a 8 bedroom spread in El Socorro ,due in great measure to governmental compensations . I know what you are thinking, but have no fear for the welfare of your own daughters , even if most of Jeni’s parents neighbors firmly believes that it almost culturally sacrilegious for a 13 year old girl to still be in possession of her virginity, much less acquire an education in 21st century Trinidad .
    Now if all that does not suit your fancy, then there is another obvious option. You can join our many loving , patriotic ,nationals that took the money and ran for distant more caring shores, where changes are slow in coming , and democracy dictates that a referendum is initiated each time major decisions ,are about to be considered by broad based elected officials.
    Why it is I again wonder , was I not born in Chad , Gao, Columbo , Bhutan, Tunisia ,or Bogota? To have the likes of Gaytri to call my fellow citizens , is a crime against humanity in itself. Where is the UN Security Council when we need them?

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