Guam – Mass Transit expansion planning team met today for the first time but riders of the mass transit told team members that there are current problems with the system that need to be worked out first before the system expands it’s service. Senator Aline Yamashita who is heading up the mass transit expansion team assured riders that they will work on improving the systems current conditions.
The mass transit expansion planning team has big plans for Guam’s mass transit system. Senator Aline Yamashita who heads up this team wants to develop a 24 hour public transit system and a village to van pilot project that involves an interconnected village system whereby mayors bus residents from one village to the next until they get to a major public transit hub.
However before they do all of these things public transit riders are saying the current system needs to be fixed first. Veterans Bill Cundiff and Victor Tabios say that the transit system needs to do a better job of reaching out to the island’s veterans and letting them know what kind of transit services are available especially for veterans with disabilities. Mass Transit Executive Manager Rudy Cabana says they have reached out to veterans and he says that they provide ADA compliant buses for disabled veterans to use.
However, a former para transit rider by the name of Frank Ungata says he’s had problems with the para transit system. “I got somehow uneligible because of the area where im staying according to the person who came down and observed where I stayed. The first time when I got kicked out of the system was because my road wasn’t paved so I moved from an area where the road was not paved to an area where the road was paved. I was told again that I cannot utilize the service because the bus was not able to come down to my area,” said Ungata. Ungata lives in the village of Merizo. He and other southern residents have complained about the mass transit service down South. “I stay down South in Merizo and the closest point they gave me to utilize to get from my home is the mayors office is the pickup point for para transit,” said Ungata.
PNC met with a lady waiting for the bus in Agana at the Chamorro Village area. Horan Orinogo says she’s been using mass transit for 7 years. She says the service in most of the central areas is fine but it’s the service back to her home in Agat that’s the problem. She says she has to wait for hours in Agana until she can catch a bus down to Agat. We asked how long she has to wait for the bus to get home. “11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,…6 hours,” said Orinogo as she counted using her fingers. “6 hours?” we asked. “Ya,” she replied. “6 hours for the bus to take you to Agat?” we asked again. “Ya,” she replied.
During the meeting at Adelup Senator Yamashita told transit riders that they are hearing all of their concerns and they will work on addressing them. “We will do what we need to do to strengthen the customer service and the communication and we certainly can look into those particular issues and stuff but I thank you for raising they are very valid concerns,” said Senator Yamashita. The Guam Regional Transit Authority will be issuing an invitation for bid for a multi-year contract in April.
“There are Guamanians in our community who want to go to UOG or GCC but don’t have the means to make it to class on time. Qualified jobseekers are often overlooked by employers simply because they may not be able to make it to work on time. Creating an affordable, reliable mass transit system isn’t just a vision, it’s an issue we must address if we want people to pursue the opportunities that will help them improve their quality of life.” – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
READ the release from the Governor’s Office below:
Planning team holds first mass transit expansion meeting
The Governor’s Office and Senator Aline Yamashita are leading an initiative to expand and support a modernized mass transit system for Guam. Senator Yamashita, chairwoman of the mass transit expansion planning team, was joined by a number of community stakeholders during the first planning meeting at Adelup today.
Team welcomes public commentary, ideas and solutions
Here are highlights of the discussion today:
– Sen. Yamashita went over the parameters of the pilot program and explained that, should the program succeed, we will look at expanding it to islandwide service.
– Sen. Mike San Nicolas, legislative oversight chairman of mass transit, said he wants to support whatever can be done to improve mass transit.
– Several mass transit and para-transit riders complained about the current services being unreliable and, at times, non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
– Widespread support was given for 24-hour service with more saturated bus stop routes.
– GCC Assistant Director of Communications Jayne Flores advocated for many of their 2,700 students, who often have issues with transportation to and from the campus.
– The agency heads for mass transit, Public Works, public schools, the division of senior citizens, veterans affairs, and DISID all were at the table prepared to contribute to solutions.
Next meeting Thursday, March 20
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 20 at 11 a.m. in the Governor’s Conference Room.