13.1 miles provides ample opportunity for reflection as you seek relief from the boredom of taking each of the 30,000–ish steps expected to be taken to complete a half-marathon.
For my umpteenth UWI half-marathon, I focused on the Priority Bus Route (PBR), the daily horror of commuting from the east, and the promise of relief that was so boldly made on the election campaign trail of 2015.
I also remembered Dr. Ray Furlonge and Dr. Trevor Townsend, because they both have spent their lifetimes suggesting practical solutions for easing the traffic congestion, to no avail.
There are 3 evils which the Government of Trinidad and Tobago permits on the PBR.
The first evil is the issuing of PBR passes to members of the “in-group” while the population endures the pain of an almost non-existent transportation system. This special pass has become a prized possession and re-enforces the notion that privilege will get you special access and therefore special advantages in this country. When will the playing field be levelled in every way?
The second evil is the facilitation of houses with direct access to the bus route. Indeed, people have paved over the drains and park their vehicles on the shoulder of the PBR or house their cars in these “paid for by the state” garages. How can this be permitted on such an important transportation artery? Laws are broken with impunity and nobody cares enough to take action. In addition to this encroachment on the PBR, there are structures whose boundary lines are built on the edge of the shoulder. Isn’t there a “set back” law for buildings?
I observed the third evil less than 2 miles into the race. There is a gas station with an entrance and exit onto the PBR. Why should one station be given that kind of business advantage over any others? What is the rationale? If this entrance and exit is designed exclusively for the Maxi drivers, how is this being monitored? I don’t accept the rationale that this exclusivity is designed to reduce traffic on the main road.
Recently our leaders have been talking about the lawlessness of our country, and that’s valid, but I say to them, “Don’t complain about what you permit!” Someone permits the excessive issuance of PBR passes and that just adds to the congestion. Someone permits these illegal structures on the PBR … someone allowed the gas station access to the PBR.
We can start doing the right thing and send a message to the entire country. How about starting with just the PBR?
I assure you that I’ll be taking those 30,000 steps in 2018 and checking if the illegal structures still exist; if the gas station still has this special access and during my training, I will take note of the number of vehicles using the PBR without permission.