In T&T: Back to grind in St James/Woodbrook

4 September 2012

Without a proper stress test, how will we ever know if the plan was practical?

After a two-month reprieve, commuters were back to the usual rush- hour grind as school re-opened yesterday.

For those travelling through Woodbrook and St James, it was also the first working day since the experimental traffic plan—initiated July 16—was reversed, reinstating the original routes. The plan was reversed last Friday, the Independence Day holiday.

“We most definitely anticipated traffic systems will be clustered,” said Sgt Wayne Mystar, who told the Express yesterday via telephone that police officers and traffic wardens “would be out in their numbers” to manage the flow of traffic.

Regarding West Port of Spain routes, Mystar said he personally experienced a little traffic along Ariapita Avenue earlier in the morning as expected, but “nothing out of the ordinary”, with everything flowing normally.

The Express took a drive through the St James/Woodrook area just as the afternoon rush hour was starting to gain momentum as school ended for the day. The entire trip from downtown to Woodbrook/St James took approximately 45 minutes, although this reporter admittedly decided to take some shortcuts through the side streets.

A brief stop in St James for photos and a chat with passersby revealed many people in the area were very much grateful for the reversion—particularly those who relied on public transportation.

“It’s so much easier to get a taxi again when I had to walk all the way to Mucurapo Road,” one elderly woman said.

Some gentlemen sitting outside a popular bar said they were grateful for the change back.

“It just makes so much more sense,” one added.

St James and Woodbrook residents were among those who clamoured the most for the plan’s reversal, to which Minister of Works and Infrastructure Emmanuel George acquiesced after meeting with them two Wednesdays ago.

But not everyone is all that crazy about the return of the old routes.

The Express contacted the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure yesterday and was told that since the changeover, the ministry had been receiving numerous calls and e-mails from disgruntled commuters upset that they had changed the plan.

“We’ve received several e-mails saying nothing positive and negative calls from people who say they want it back,” said a senior ministry official who did not wish to be named.

The official added that it was residents—many of whom did not speak out before—who were speaking out now to say they wanted at least some elements of the plan reinstated.

The ministry, the Express was advised, will be continuously re-evaluating the plan, especially in light of these criticisms. An evaluation is expected to be conducted today.


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