Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 22nd 2014 Contents B11
Thursday, May 22, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Pakistani craftsman Niaz Gul gives the finishing touches to a model of a truck at his shop in Peshawar,
Pakistan, yesterday. Gul sells models of traditionally-decorated local trucks and rickshaws to earn a living
for his family. AP PHOTO
"Which part ah Cascade?" the
taxi drivers ask me, any time after
dark when I m trying to get home.
"Not too far," I lie, bribing them
with $30. By the time we re deep in
Cascade it will be too late to turn
$30 is not a bad price from Inde-
pendence Square. In London it would
When I mentioned on Facebook
that I take a taxi to work, a friend
was incredulous---until I told him
the price is 40p in English money
and five people squeeze into a sweat-
box car, often without A/C.
I have loved my daily taxi expe-
riences in Port-of-Spain. They ve
introduced me to a lot of the culture
I might not have experienced oth-
erwise. The dialect, music, humour,
courteousness, rudeness, heat, dust,
Still, it s a blessing my friend has
lent me his car while he s away.
"You need a car in Trinidad," I
was told, repeatedly.
And it is true. Everything is set
up that way, the American way. But
this is not America, it s a small island
and ought to be serviced by an effi-
cient public transport system.
Rowley wants rapid rail. As an
Englishman, I must agree. We need
not fear industrialised transport in
We already have cars on highways
terrorising the countryside, emitting
petroleum belches. Modern trains
glide, almost soundlessly.
A colleague recently told me we
should build a tunnel or bridge con-
necting Trinidad to Tobago. I
laughed, but it s not beyond the
realms of possibility.
England is connected to mainland
Europe by tunnel and we feel part
of a community.
I don t think a subway system in
PoS would work. Not with the crime
and homelessness. It s only in recent
years the London Underground net-
work began to work efficiently.
The improvements to London s
buses and tubes are remarkable, from
the decrepit, stinking deathtraps of
the 80s to the sleek, clean lifeblood
of the city.
They operate 24 hours and arrive
every few minutes. You swipe a plas-
tic card against a cardreader to pay
for your journey instantly and effort-
Recorded announcements tell you
the next stop (intended for blind
people but handy for all), buses lower
their entrances to allow wheelchair
Most tube stations have step-free
access (ramps or elevators) for the
disabled. I can t imagine the night-
mare of trying to travel around PoS
if I was in a wheelchair, had young
children, was elderly or had mobility
London s transport improvements
came at the expense of drivers. To
drive into Central London between
7am and 6pm Monday to Friday
costs £10, in a toll system like cross-
ing the Golden Gate Bridge. You pay
online. Failure to pay by midnight
means an automatic fine of £65.
Drivers complained bitterly at first
but soon accepted it. Now nobody
drives to work in London because
modern cities cannot be clogged and
polluted with car traffic.
London also has a low emission
zone, charging heavy diesel trucks
to enter the 60-mile radius around
London. Air quality is improved, the
yellowy-brown pall lifted.
Trinidad s roads are not user-
friendly. Everything requires a car
yet the setup is flawed. Despite
wreckers operating a racket, cars still
park on city-centre roads, narrowing
them to a single lane at times, stran-
gling the space.
On the Churchill-Roosevelt High-
way you have traffic lights and inter-
sections. Traffic lights on a highway!
Government money would be bet-
ter spent on that instead of extending
a highway through the Oropouche
lagoon, displacing hundreds of fam-
Money would be better spent
decreasing vehicle volume altogether
instead of encouraging it to contin-
ue.If rapid rail is to succeed, people
must be forced to stop driving:
household limits on cars, congestion
zones, park and ride, parking fees,
car pool lanes.
Tramlines could connect the
Savannah to Downtown, Woodbrook,
St James, Laventille.
Water taxis (this is an island after
all) could carry thousands more
between North, Central and South.
Buses could run on time, not
whenever they feel like it, like the
PTSC services at City Gate with mad
scrambles to clamber onboard.
Ask any driver sitting in a daily
tailback, foot riding the brake, lis-
tening to Rachel Price screeching on
the radio, whether they d rather be
sitting in an airconditioned rail car-
riage snoozing or watching the coun-
tryside slide by.
Calling all cars
Ask any driver sitting in
a daily tailback, foot
riding the brake,
listening to Rachel Price
screeching on the radio,
whether they'd rather
be sitting in an
carriage snoozing or
countryside slide by.
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