Home Forums Traffic Management, Road Safety and Infrastructure Title: Transport Problems in Mauritius

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    Gooranah Kaniah

    Title: Transport Problems in Mauritius

    The transport system in Mauritius does not meet the exigencies of a modern and outward oriented country. Tenders for new buses by the NTC may be announced, and setting up bus shelters around the island may be suggested. But it does not solve much.
    Free transport was introduced in September 2005 to enable school children, pensioners and persons with disabilities to use bus services free. Hence the need to create a revolution in the public transport system which will be driven by innovation, leadership and quality and which will provide efficacy, comfort and safety to the 750 000 passengers travelling daily by 3 000 buses. In Mauritius, the main form of land transport is road networks. Some are overloaded during the peak hours. Drivers skip bus stops when they are full and are affected badly by traffic congestion. The free transportation system costs about Rs 600 m rupees per year and till now it has cost more than Rs 3.5 billion to the government.

    Potential Solutions

    1. Integrated Land Use and Transport Planning – to reduce the need to travel long distances to reach desired services. Decentralizing the capital: to achieve it, laws have to be passed to compel companies/organizations to operate outside the capital.
    2. Create a national awareness program to emphasize on the benefits of carpooling. If people start sharing their car daily, it does not only save fuel but also solves traffic problems, prevents unnecessary stress and reduces number of cars on our roads.
    3. A better management of the free transport for students can actually increase the willingness of people to use the public transport system. Nowadays, endless number of complaints are registered because students use public transport buses instead of dedicated school buses. Result: Employees are penalized because buses are most often filled with students while school buses are used by only a small number of students.
    4. Taxis are not fulfilling their intended role in the transport system: Meters are rarely used. Local services (charging the equivalent of bus fares) are provided in residential areas, but these compete (illegally) with buses; over longer distances, excessively high fixed fares are charged, mainly aimed at the tourist market. Since there are relatively few people willing to pay such high fares, taxis spend much of their time waiting at taxi stands (they are not allowed to cruise the streets). This in turn gives the impression that there are ‘too many’ taxis. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some car owners obtain taxi licences to avoid paying import duty, when they have no intention of running a proper taxi service.
    5. The public image of buses should be enhanced.
    6. The government has tried to keep bus fares as low as possible but the result has been, in general, an unsatisfactory level of service, although there are exceptions. In some ways the bus services are better than in many countries: there is no shortage of buses, they are seldom crowded, they are moderately clean, the route coverage is extensive, and waiting times are generally acceptable. The fares are reasonable and operators are clearly managing to make some profit. On the other hand, most of the buses are unsuited to urban conditions, many of them are poorly maintained, driving behaviour takes little account of passenger comfort, there is little information about routes and times, and bus stations are often unattractive and unpleasant. As a result, the public image of the bus industry is poor and most people are obviously glad to escape the buses as soon as they can acquire their own transport.
    7. Better use of traffic signals. Traffic management measures are not being implemented consistently. More emphasis needs to be placed on providing and maintaining clear traffic signs and road markings, using reflectorized materials wherever possible. The use of traffic control devices such as traffic signals also needs to be increased, and an effective monitoring and replacement programme put in place. There are only 76 signalised junctions on Mauritius, plus a further 24 signalised pedestrian crossings. One third of the equipment is more than 10 years old, resulting in spare parts being expensive or unobtainable. In the next 5 years, another 20% of the equipment will fall into this category.
    8. The results of the comprehensive road inventory carried out by the Study indicate that too little attention is being given to road maintenance. Some 16% of the main road network (about 190 km) is showing early signs of distress and is in need of periodic maintenance, and a further 7% has already passed this state. On these roads, maintenance has been insufficient to prevent deterioration or there is some other reason for the damage. They require urgent rehabilitation or reconstruction if further damage is to be avoided.
    9. Nobody should roam around with money. You merely have an electronic card that you tap at the MRT stations and aboard buses to pay for your fare. What is more you can use the same card as a means to pay for other expenses. Additionally, if you change buses to reach your destination, chances are that you pay only once given the number of kilometers traveled. It’s easy and economic. This reduces traffic and encourages the use of public transport because you can still reach right in front of a supermarket or mall’s door or the inside of a building without having to worry about parking, which is a luxury in Mauritius.

    10. Bus conductors are of no need and given the Mauritian context where conductors can be extremely vile and rude, that’s only a boon.
    11. To prevent assaults by the public, messages should be inscribed in the inside of buses to educate people: “Your bus driver needs a safe working environment as well, just like you.”
    “Don’t be a silent victim of molestation.
    What to do if you are molested (a picture showing a man ‘merely’ touching a woman’s arm):
    1. Step Away. 2. Call 999.”

    12. Fine of RS 5000 for eating and drinking in buses. In this way, you won’t find little insects and pests in the bus.
    13. Nobody should fight for a seat. Instead there should be a culture of standing.

    14. Bus lanes before and after every bus stop with their own bus lay-bys. Anything and everything not to stall traffic.
    Bus Stops equipped with information that even aliens could make the most of. All bus stops should have a name which are effectively recorded in transit apps and on Google maps, they indicate which buses stop, in how many minutes they are arriving and what bus stops it will stop at, showing the distance, duration of travel along with other smarter route options on Street Directory.

    16. Prams and Wheelchairs. Air Conditioned. No Radio or Music which happen to be against the law even in Mauritius but it is never enforced and hence at times people end up having a headache or become irritated. No abused honking and goon-type attitude of bus drivers. Extremely professional understanding themselves that they are at their place of work and shouldn’t be talking loudly or stopping unnecessarily to buy a ‘Coca Cola’ or ‘bajia’. A bus would never stop to take a passenger except for on the bus stop.

    17. The seats go by the average butt size of its population. So sights of a woman squished in between two giant men manspreading like they own the place should not be seen.
    Because Mauritius is very much of a humid place you’ll still not have to worry about hoping on a disgustingly damp and watery bus as all passengers have this moral obligation of using the Free Umbrella Holders dispensed on rainy days.
    18. Places to board a trolley full of vegetables on market days. No vandalism. No graffiti.

    19. No reckless driving. Drivers should not use phones or race back to the terminal because they have time restraints from their bosses. A driver should be aware that he has between his hands not a steering wheel or below his feet the accelerator, but instead has the lives of many passengers.

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