Zero hour for public transportation

9 AM.

Right now, public transportation buses in Barquisimeto (called the rutas) has the words hora 0 (zero hour) written in all their side windows.

Those words indicate the possibility of a strike. The reasons behind it vary: from the lack of payment of subsidies related to the “student ticket” (used by both school pupils and college students) to the everpresent problem of crime in the streets.

But this time, the zero hour could no longer be just a threat to force talks between the State and the public transportation sector. It could really come true.

The reason: the fight for the sector’s very own survival. The Chavernment wants to take it completely under its wing, under the banner of brand-new “socialist operators”.

With the announced elimination of Fontur (National Transportation Fund), lines would be cut out of funding to obtain new vehicles or repair their aging fleets. The “student fleet” subsidy would be assumed by the Universities Ministry, which has already a terrible reputation regarding the financing of the institutions it takes care of. A troubling sign.

But the plan goes even further: Years ago, the Chavernment created a company to handle public transportation called Sitssa. It was supposed to compete with private bus lines that travel around the country. Now it looks that its purpose will change to handle urban services as well, and they’re already giving away Chinese-made long buses to those “socialist operators”.

Public transportation drivers are not sitting idly by, and they’re threatening with a general strike if necessary. Meanwhile, the state plan has a serious flaw. Those big buses Sitssa is giving away can only circulate in large avenues. Because of their size, entering small streets and dirt roads could be difficult. Those buses are being used now for mass transit projects like the BusCaracas or the TroleMerida.

No concrete action is expected from either the authorities or the drivers until next year. Still, the Chavernment wants to seize control and have no problem in leaving both workers and users in the dark.

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  1. Provided with an alternative I think it is a good thing. It is the role of the State to manage public transportation. I think these private “carritos, perreras, por puestos, etc.” prevent the development of a more effective, more efficient, more environmentally friendly mass transit.

    I hope the opposition doesn’t go gun ho against it, but instead approach the problem in a way that they make sure it done and executed properly.

    • Agree with you. Sadly, Chavismo is not interested in quality service, just taking control.

      Sooner or later, there must be a serious reform of the entire public transportation system and it’s better to start the discussion now.

    • Read and learn the dangers of knocking down a beehive, so to speak:

      A murky opposition coalition fulfilled the requirements for a referendum to recall Susana Villarán, the mayor of Lima, because she has tried to reorganize the routes of anarchic private minibuses to complement a modern rapid-transit bus system, among other things. The vote will be held on March 17th.

      It ain’t that easy, pal.

  2. It is amazing how a government where authority flows from a single person cannot have a coherent strategy, much less an intelligent strategy. It is amazing how a supposedly socialist government is incapable of providing adequate public services of the most rudimentary kind.

    Well, maybe not so amazing. Power to the bus drivers!


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