Senate Passes Weekend Bus Services Bill
ST.THOMAS — On Sept. 22 the Virgin Islands Senate approved a bill mandating that bus services resume on weekends and holidays with a landslide 14–1 vote.
The opposing vote came from Sen. Tregenza A. Roach.
“I don’t believe in passing legislation we know requires funding,”
Roach said during the legislative consideration of the bills,
“especially in specific instances where we appear to be appeasing the people who need the service but fail to provide real teeth. We need to put the money where our mouth is.”
Sens. Almando “Rocky” Liburd and Marvin Blyden sponsored the bill.
“Reality is that times are hard, and they provide a service that is needed,” Liburd said, “It is unfortunate that we have to put this in law.”
“We deserve no less” Blyden said.
A community poll conducted by the 2015 United States Virgin Islands and Federal Highway Administration asked,
“What are the most important future transportation priorities for the USVI?”
The majority of voters selected transit services be expanded.
Sens. Jean Forde, Kurt Vialet, Tregenza Roach, Terrance “Positive” Nelson and Janette Millin-Young brought up concerns of funding for the bill.
“[I] hope all are prepared to give the department more money,” Nelson said. “Revenue might not be enough to cover additional hours,” Nelson continued.
The Bill No. 31–0133 is an act requiring the commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works to provide VITRAN bus service on weekends and holidays.
The bill does not include language on funding nor does it provide a deadline for the Department of Public Works to resume weekend services.
On Jul. 31, Legislative Committee of Housing, Public Works and Waste Management heard testimony from Public Works Commissioner Gustav James on the VITRAN bill.
“With regards to providing bus service on regular routes on weekends and holidays, please be assured that we at DPW and VITRAN are fully committed to this end,”James said.
“The reason these services are not currently provided has been due to a lack of available funding. We are actively addressing this and ask that the proposed mandate grant us adequate time to evaluate our resources and capacity.” James continued.
In regard to when the weekend bus services will be started, “We are thinking sometime early next year.” James said in a phone interview.
He hopes that, “the increased reliability and extended service will increase the ridership.”
The bill awaits Gov. Kenneth Mapp’ s signature to go into effect.
UPDATE: On Nov. 16 The St. Croix Source reported that the VITRAN bus services would return to Saturday services and posted the following schedule for Saturdays:
- St. Croix: 8:00 am- 3:30 pm
- St. Thomas: 7:00 am- 1:00 pm
- St. John- 8:00 am- 2:00 pm
The next full legislative session is on Wednesday starting at 10 a.m.
The session will be broadcasted on Radio One and a live stream is hosted on the Virgin Islands Legislature’s website, www.legvi.org.