Gooding justifies PTSC suspending service during protests


File photo: PTSC chairman Edwin Gooding.

PUBLIC Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) chairman Edwin Gooding endorsed a corporation statement that in effect suspended aspects of the bus service on Monday owing to street protests, at several spots around Port of Spain, during which fires were lit and several objects were thrown as missiles.

Newsday spoke with him about an hour after the corporation had issued its statement at 3 pm to media houses and on its social media platforms telling the public of “adjustments to our normal scheduled services today” because of the Beetham Highway and the Priority Bus Route being blocked.

“These disruptions will affect our normal flow of services and, therefore, we suggest that commuters consider making alternative travel arrangements where possible.

“We are monitoring this situation and will continue to keep our commuters updated on all changes to our schedules as we continue to provide a safe, reliable and affordable bus transport service to the citizens of TT.”

It said the PTSC Act 1965 mandates the corporation to provide “a safe, adequate, economic and efficient public transportation system” and “sufficient road transport facilities” as they deem necessary.

“It’s not that we are just shutting down and all of you find your own way home,“ Gooding said.

“We cannot pass on the Priority Bus Route, we cannot pass on the highway, and getting on to the Eastern Main Road makes no sense.”

He said the PTSC’s main route to go eastwards was the PBR and, in an emergency, it could also be the highway.

“It is a situation where we are saying, ‘Listen we don’t know how long this thing will last. This is disrupting our services and therefore you may wish to make arrangements for alternatives.’ So that’s the context.”

Newsday asked if the PTSC, as the country’s public transport body, was failing to extend itself to the public, perhaps because of a fear of risking a broken windshield in the unrest.

Gooding replied, “What if they pelt a missile, the driver gets hit or distracted, the bus runs off the road and 50 people get injured? What about that side of it?”

Newsday sought details of how the PTSC was conducting its monitoring of the traffic/safety situation, how regularly, and if it was in touch with police on the highway.

Gooding replied, “I’m the chairman of the corporation and don’t have those nitty-gritty details.”

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