By Claudia Yera Jaime and Idalia Vázquez Zerquera
With barely two weeks of exploitation, ten buses make their route around Santa Clara. Six of them go through the stretch between the railroad and the mother´s hospital and four of them make it from the policlinic Marta Abreu until Leoncio Vidal´s park.
It is quite common in these days to arrive at the new bus station and having the conductor waiting for passengers. Due to the high fee of 3 pesos each, the Villa Clara capital suffers from the syndrome of the empty ¨Dianas¨ and the public opinion is against this choice.
At the bus station
To some people is a comfort to be seated without being victims of being pushed or stepped, having the chance to board them at any place or stay where the passenger wants.
It has nothing to do with the opinion of some other inhabitants, whose money available for transportation is not enough to take these buses. Then, they have no choice but waiting patiently for the 0.20 cents or 1 peso buses, though being transported standing on foot, packed in like sardines or in the door.
¨I agree with this service, it is a good one as an alternative; it is expensive but useful while solving a problem. I rather take this bus than paying 3 or 5 pesos to a horse drawn carriage rider. It is faster and safer.¨ commented an inhabitant of Encrucijada, who travels regularly to Santa Clara.
However, an inhabitant of the neighborhood of Virginia, Amparo Pérez Fernández, finds illogical this modality ¨they talk about more comfort but I don´t see it anywhere. Transtur buses have the same fee with more comfortable seats and air conditioner. These ones are the same to other Dianas, plastic seats and quite hard. I rather wait for one cheaper. It is true they go overcrowded but life is too expensive and too hard and 3 pesos to be transported a stretch is not profitable. I rather wait for something more affordable.¨
¨I disagree with the prices. They should be placed in other routes with more just fees. They work practically empty wasting fuel¨ expressed José Luis García Chaviano, who at work functions makes transfers daily from El Gigante to Anton Díaz.
¨I must take more than one bus and have to choose for the cheapest otherwise the wage naturally not enough would be spent on transportation.¨ he added.
What do drivers say?
At the bus station of Marta Abreu, Rudy Martínez Zamora, the driver of one of the polemic buses with departs intervals between 8 and 12 minutes, waits for his turn.
Since we started we have done more or less. There has not been too much passenger fluency. Travelers ask for the route to be extended. Almost never we depart with all the capacities busy, not even in rush hours.
¨We charge the established fee, but our pocket will keep on seeing the same wage. They say this is meant to improve our salary, we should wait and see next month to see what happens.¨
With an experience of 40 years on this sector, the driver Gustavo Echevarría Morales , president of the Labor Justice Board of the urban buses and brigade chief of buses transiting from the railroad to the mother´s hospital, also expressed his considerations.
¨Some people are happy about this service but some others not. Beyond the price, which is high for the majority, I believe that to these buses the route should be extended until el Recanto (in the highway to Sagua). We departed almost empty. I´m coming from the mother´s hospital with only five passengers, if the stretch were longer the situation might be different.
On the other hand, his homolog Pavel Montes Díaz defends the idea that these buses are an alternative. ¨They were not intended to substitute the already existing. The one who does not have the 3 pesos waits for the 0.20 cents bus.¨
Urban buses respond
Jarys Hernández Simón, director of the Enterprise Unit of Base, Urban buses in Santa Clara, made clear the particularities of these buses.
¨Since several years we implemented this kind of service to support the 18 routes that run through the different neighborhoods of the city, before the constant transportation of people.
¨The characteristics of the new buses, which have been circulating in other provinces, obey to a differenced decree of the Ministry of Transport.
The fee of three pesos responds that people are not allowed to travel on foot. Passengers take on and off the bus where ever they want, as long as the driver wouldn´t make a moving violation. It is a service with more quality than the conventional.
For the citizen who lives it day by day, turns little believable the fee of the fare with the alleged comfort of the buses, when their only advantages are to limit the service to the amount of people the seats allow, board them out of the bus stop and choose the final destination.
¨The chosen routes were part of a study which revealed that the hospital zone is the one with more public fluency and where there is more demand of transportation. These are the spinal routes of the city.¨
It is also important the amount of fees existing in the urban and suburban transportation in Santa Clara established by the Ministry of Transportation. However, with the incomes generated by the new buses will be difficult to increase the basic wages of drivers since the low fluency of the passengers is not a good sign.
Then, it is vital in moments of energy contingency which demand the saving of fuel to make adjustments over the march, for the alternative to be more efficient since it is worthless these buses make their tour almost empty in a city where 50 000 people are transported daily.
If drivers and passengers agree to extend the route and to include the Park Vidal in the tour Railroad-Mother´s Hospital, and the need to lower down the prices, why not to make a reality the popular feeling? At this moment, discomfort increases and disagreement keeps on the routes of urban buses