By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
If you do a survey and interview 10 people waiting at a bus stop, I’m sure, if not all of them, nine out of these 10 people will agree that travelling by buses in Macau is not easy. Basically you need to have high endurance to heat and also have the skills to squeeze yourself into an already very packed vehicle.
The Transport Bureau has been talking about encouraging locals to opt for public transportation rather than their own cars or scooters when commuting or going around the city. Despite it’s always not an easy task to find a parking space, many residents still prefer to buy themselves a vehicle. Why is it like that?
Apart from the fact that having your own car is always more convenient (even in countries where the public transportation systems are very much advanced), I’ll bet another main reason behind is the poor bus services in Macau.
Director of the Transport Bureau Wong Wan told reporters on Sunday that he “understood” locals chose to drive because they wanted to have a “comfortable private space”. He also said that the Government must have to provide “quality transportation” in order to make people give up private vehicles.
It’s so good to know that Wong Wan knows and understands where the key solution lies. But then now the problem is more about how to achieve.
I’m a bus person and waiting at bus stops is part of my daily routine. And what I’ve noticed these days is that the stuffy weather has made my bus experience worse.
One of the lasting problems which I think the Government has to look at, first of all, is how to enhance local people’s civil awareness. I’ve seen too many times that passengers were reluctant to move to the back of the bus and therefore those who were standing in the front were packed like sardines and some even had to stand on the doorstep. It doesn’t make any sense to me because these people needed to get off through the back door anyway.
In order to deal with this problem, it seems that the locals have come up with a “strategy” – entering the bus through the back door – which I have to admit is quite a smart idea given the selfish behaviour of some passengers but isn’t very nice to see especially when Macau wants to build up a civilised and positive image to the world.
Due to the special road conditions in Macau, some buses that go through narrow and side streets have to be small just like the size of a mini-bus with a passenger capacity of probably less than 30. If the bus size is fixed, why don’t they increase the service frequency to compensate for it particularly during rush hours? The thing is even when people can’t wait any longer and want to catch a taxi, it’s also not easy to find one that is not occupied most of the time.
Another problem concerning those mini-buses is that the air conditioning system is usually very weak, probably because they’re kind of old. It’s not enjoyable at all to be in a crowded bus even just for five minutes in summer, while the air conditioning barely exists plus the “Grand Prix” driving style of some drivers……
A successful public transportation system is one of the fundamental elements for an international tourism city.
While taxis are always insufficient and the light rail transit is still “in the middle of nowhere”, visitors have to heavily rely on our public buses in order to explore Macau. Perhaps we have to thank the casino/hotel operators for providing courtesy shuttle services as it does to a certain extent help minimise the inadequacy of Macau’s public transportation.