The United St. Maarten Bus Drivers Association held meetings with the Ministry of Transportation seeking to get a consensus on the part of Government to help organize and regulate public bus transportation on the island. The President of the Bus Association, Mr. Claude Omenus, says for the first time he felt confident that the new Minister of TEATT, Mr. Stewart Johnson, seems willing to work with the association to regulate public buses running in an organized way to the different districts.
Public Transportation on St. Maarten for all intent and purpose has been in the hands of individuals who have been issued Bus and Taxi licenses to operate on the public roads without any specific frame work for service that they have to abide by. The only rules they are to follow are the traffic guidelines by law. Taxis on the other hand have established themselves putting in place organizations of which taxi drivers are encouraged to become members and work within their organization’s structure.
Busses however, are running arbitrarily where they feel they can make the most money and at whatever times they feel like doing so. This system has turned out to be more of a hustle rather than providing a structured bus service. As a result some districts get no bus service and gypsies run rampant and uncontrolled. Another complexity within the bus service system on St. Maarten has come from politicians giving Bus licenses to themselves and family members who then rent these permits to drivers who are not willing to cooperate and work in a systematic way but hustle on the road to pay their monthly fees. That situation has led to an over saturation of busses especially in light of the politicians’ practice of giving out Bus licenses as favors.
Since the inception of The United St. Maarten Bus Drivers Association, attempts have been made to regulate public bus service throughout the island but that has been met with constant failures due to Government not showing interest in wanting to regulate the Public Bus Service on the island. The sitting current Bus association members are pushing hard to involve the Ministry of Transportation to implement certain procedures such as a color code system for districts, a bus terminal for Philipsburg and the involvement of more districts, to give teeth and a show of support to the Association’s effort, and finally give commuters the trusted bus service they so deserve.