I was elated several months ago when I read in the nation’s official newspaper that each of the Havana buses on the new P lines would have a GPS unit installed on it. “Modern technology has finally made it to the island!” I exclaimed.
From a central control station, the position of each bus could be detected on an electronic panel. From there they could tell how long each bus was at a bus stop, if it pulled up at every stop or not, etc.
It was not only this, but also the idea that each bus would have to show up at each stop at a certain time, like occurs abroad – though the time between buses here can be 20 minutes or even a half hour – and not every two or three minutes, like occurs “out there.” This made me jump up out of my seat with happiness, a joy that was immediately darkened when I then read that each GPS unit would cost around $300 dollars. “Let’s hope it’s not all for nothing!” I thought at that moment.
Now a few months having now gone by, I have to say —with my frustration pushed to the limit— that not only do the buses continue driving along packed but “at the drivers whim,” they don’t even stop at the bus stops, which is what happened last week when I was on my way to an important meeting.
So I have to wonder: What type of strange GPS system do these buses have that gives the drivers absolute freedom to do whatever they find convenient? Or is it that those in control have given explicit instructions to the drivers to do just the opposite to what’s established under the threat of being closely monitored by GPS monitors?
A friend wound up telling me, “The only thing that works with those GPS units is that the drivers no longer pocket the change because they think a little camera has also been installed to watch them.” And me, dying with laughter, I ended up believing him.
But it’s not even this, my friends, because in a conspiracy of silence —like all conspiracies on our island— I could also note how people still often prefer to put their fares directly into the hands of the drivers so that “they get theirs,” or maybe so the government doesn’t.
Otherwise, I would like to get up one bright and sunny morning and discover that this great investment made by the State in a GPS system was not, like everything else, forgotten in the old drawer of un-resolved utopias. On that day I would like for the citizens of this country to be able to go to any bus stop confident that at a specific time the bus will come by…and that it will also stop.