GRTA riders praise service, but say there is still room to improve | Guam News

The Guam Regional Transit Authority has come a long way in improving public transportation services to residents since its inception in 2009. But there is still room for improvement, according to users.

The Guam Daily Post spoke with GRTA riders and other residents to get an overview of the current outlook for public transport. Feedback was both positive and negative with regards to health and safety on public buses, the timeliness of GRTA’s services and affordability.

Anthony Acfalle, a resident of Mangilao, a daily runner, is happy with the health and safety measures he saw on the buses.

“Health and safety for me is fine. I think it’s fine, it’s up to par. I also used to take public transport in North Carolina. I think the only thing that m The trouble is, I can’t understand the names because it’s different, I’m so used to seeing numbers. Here is the red line, the orange line. In North Carolina , it was bus 19, 13, 14. But for me, everything is fine, ”Acfalle said.

Other runners, including Bo Rengulbai, a resident of Dededo, accepted.

“Health and safety is good. Just wear your mask, that’s all, and you’re fine. You need to be vaccinated to take the bus,” Rengulbai said.

Passengers’ views on health and safety on public buses differed significantly from the perceptions of some non-passengers, such as a resident of Harmon who asked not to be identified.

“Honestly, I won’t take it,” said the Harmon resident, who perceived local public transport as “dirty”.

GRTA Executive Director Cel Babauta said: “Certainly the last few weeks and months have been filled with rain, so it is extremely difficult to thoroughly clean the buses 16 hours a day. These buses are swept, cleaned and garbage removed daily. twice a day. The vans and buses are washed in the evening when returning from the roads.

Rengulbai noted that many non-users may still perceive public transport in a negative light. He mentioned the operations of the GRTA almost 10 years ago.

“They are ashamed. I am not ashamed because it takes me from point A to point B, not at the exact time, but I will be there. I use public transport to get to to my dates and everything, ”he said. “They should try it before they start talking.”

Another runner also came to the defense of the system.

“There is nothing to be ashamed of taking public transport. The drivers at this agency are helping. But it would make a bigger difference if we were taken to where we need to go. I would be embarrassed to walk on the edge of the road with my children or grandchildren, ”said the resident of Merizo.

The passengers the Post spoke to were primarily concerned with the services offered, including hours of operation, punctuality and reliability.

GRTA operates 16 hours a day, six days a week. It offers nine adapted transport and seven fixed routes, which requires 18 public transport vehicles.

“Although many people in Guam continue to overlook the importance of a good public transportation system, GRTA is committed to modernizing its system to make it safe and reliable,” Babauta said. “The current transit interval or frequency of buses picking up passengers at bus stops is one hour and 30 minutes. We want to reduce the transit interval to every 30 minutes. It is essential to reduce the transit interval / frequency so that people in Guam can rely on public transportation for work, school and health care. “

Many runners are relieved that budget problems in 2011 did not shut down the agency. The riders noted the improvements GRTA has made in recent years and the improvements they would like to see.

“Punctuality is a problem. They have to change the schedule, create a better schedule,” Rengulbai said.

Another bus driver, from Malesso, said the services were helping “a lot” but offered some suggestions on how this can improve.

“I strongly suggest that the governor look into GRTA with more buses and public transport vans, as many of us cannot afford our own vehicles,” said the Malesso resident. “Honestly these guys, the bus drivers, they deserve a pay raise. They make a big difference in our lives just to take us everywhere. We are just strangers and on top of that GRTA should be a 24h transit / 24 and 7/7. From Monday to Sunday. “

Lack of transportation is one of the barriers that prevent residents from finding and keeping employment.

“We all want to find a job, but the destination (…) is not where we have to go for our work. We have to be dropped off exactly where we work instead of being dropped off and having to walk. “said the biker. noted. “Another thing too is that sometimes public transport has issues with flat tires, or the bus breaks down and sometimes we have to wait two to three hours for the next transport to take us to and from. you look at it, the governor has to put more in GRTA, because we are automatically losing our jobs pretty much. It should be 24/7. “

More vehicles, shorter waiting times

Currently, GRTA is working with management to seek more funding.

“I will work with the Guam leadership to seek more funding so that GRTA can operate seven days a week and at least 20 hours a day. Maui, an island comparable to Guam, provides a budget of over $ 8 million for its transit agency. I was budgeted for $ 2.3 million, “Babauta said.

GRTA must purchase 75 additional buses to reduce transit time.

“By reducing the interval to about 30 minutes, Guam residents can rely on public transportation for work, school and other essential and leisure destinations,” Babauta said. “The leadership of Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio as well as the GRTA Board of Directors have been of great support in GRTA’s pursuit to dramatically improve Guam’s transit system. We are diligent for many important reasons: With a public transportation system, unemployment and poverty rates in Guam will drop from 11.9% and 23% respectively, as people will have journeys they can rely on to find. and keep their jobs. “

With gas prices around $ 5, public transportation is becoming an increasingly attractive option at $ 1.50 a ticket and 50 cents for school-aged children.

“We need public transport”

A teacher at a public school in Malojloj is considering public transport.

“When I lived in San Diego, I took the bus and streetcar all the time. With the gas prices, I would totally take the bus. The gas prices are crazy. I think that’s why more that everything, we need public transportation. Another That’s a lot of my students, you would be shocked how many parents don’t have transportation, “the teacher said.

Babauta said: “Reducing traffic congestion will reduce pollution, accidents and fatalities on the road. People will have more money to spend because they can take public transit and not have to buy expensive gasoline. Having a reliable public transportation system will allow students to get to UOG by public transit. , GCC and private or public schools. They will then have the opportunity to complete their higher education and get well-paying jobs. GRTA is very committed to providing not only adequate transport to the local population, but also to the military and tourists. “

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