When I’m at the bus stop, I almost always see a number of buses fly by that don’t pick anyone up. These aren’t the vehicles that make up the public transit system, but ones that belong to certain State-run rental agencies.
You can watch them drive by empty —lots of them— two or three times the number of public buses. I figure that they have to waste great amounts of fuel, which the country is not in a position to afford.
The country recently launched its “Energy Revolution,” focused on conserving electricity. It goes so far as taking measures that frequently leave whole neighborhoods in the dark; or thousands of companies closed or with computers shut down and without air conditioning, just at the hottest hours of the day.
Notwithstanding, it seems this campaign around the critical issue of resource conservation doesn’t include public transportation.
What we save on one hand, and what costs the sweat and sacrifice of millions of Cubans, is used up inattentively.
Yet rental buses don’t always just sail on by. Occasionally they stop at bus stops and pick up large numbers of passengers, but they charge a full peso (two and a half times the fare for public transportation).
What’s worse is that the drivers pocket most of the money (I’m sure of this because I used to work at a bus depot).
The daily report would show about 200 pesos collected, but they would pocket between 500 and 1,000 pesos – more than what most Cuban workers earn in a month.
Between the wasted fuel, the poor transportation service (exacerbated by that fact), and the theft of fares – what’s the total loss?
When we consider this involves millions of pesos, I believe this would be enough to make substantial improvements to our transportation system. As for the robbery of fares, very little has been done to prevent this, and those measures taken fail to completely address the situation.
Just as everything is neither rose colored nor totally bleak, the institute where I work has a bus that ensures us transportation to and from the job. This keeps us from having to endure the daily odyssey of traveling on foot or the dangers of the many pickpockets and perverts who prowl on public buses. This averts us from having to get into arguments or fight with someone more stressed out than we are – situations that I’ve seen when the bus from work doesn’t come by and I have to take public transit.