No new ferries, but we’re getting new buses??

Vitran Buses
Image credit: St. John Tradewinds News

Sometimes I am simply at a loss for words… This is one of those times.

As you all know, our favorite Public Works Commissioner, Mr. Darryl Smalls, promised back on January 29 that our new $8 million ferries would begin transporting passengers within 30 days. That was 127 days ago, but who’s counting. Oh wait, I totally am.

So I have to admit, I was stunned when I read yesterday on the Tradewind‘s Facebook page that our beloved Darryl Smalls was in the States inspecting new buses. New buses?? (Actually I wasn’t stunned. I was simply disgusted.) Here’s what the Tradewinds posted:

Newly constructed heavy duty VITRAN buses were subject to final inspection last week before shipment to the territory. The buses should arrive in the Virgin Islands within the next 30-45 days.

Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls spent several days on the mainland last week conducting final inspections of ten new heavy duty VITRAN buses that are headed to the territory in the next month and a half. The buses, which totaled $4.7 million, were paid for by Federal Highway Administration funds. St. Thomas and St. Croix will each see four new buses added to the VI transit system while two buses will run the route on St. John.

This week, Smalls is at another bus facility conducting similar inspections of twelve medium duty buses that will soon be added to the VI bus routes in both island districts. The smaller buses, which totaled $2 million, were Federal Transit Administration funding.

Here’s an idea – let’s finish one project before moving on the next. New ferries? Centerline Road? Just a thought…

So ok, maybe the territory does need new buses. But how are these new, “heavy duty” buses going to traverse our narrow and windy island roads? And more importantly, how are they going to maneuver alongside the partially closed, partially crumbling section of Centerline Road out near Coral Bay? You know the one the “fedral” one that needed “emergency” repairs like four years ago?? The one where work is barely happening…

I say we all place bets on when these new buses will begin running. My guess is January 2015. Leave your guess on the comments section or over on our Facebook page.

Want to know the history of the botched Centerline Road project? Click here to see its full history on LifeonOurRock.com. Click here if you’d like to know all about the new ferry debacle.

14 thoughts on “No new ferries, but we’re getting new buses??”

  1. Mr. Smalls is basically a welfare queen. The buses were “free” meaning they were paid by someone else, in this case uncle Sam. Now I admit this is how the government game is played so I’m hoping that we actually need the buses as opposed to “you better take these buses or the money is going down some other rat hole somewhere else”. The ferries are a case in point–no one wanted them but here they are!

  2. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see how a bias that size could have any efficient maneuverability on the roads of STJ. Seems like a use-it-or-lose-it govt deal to me Patrick.

    The new generation thinks everything is free. Just because you don’t pay for it, doesn’t mean it was free. Welcome to the Brave New World. Handouts expected.

  3. Oh no..too much pollution and with some of the hills they could never get around some of the curves. They will probably spend most of the time being repaired.

  4. A cursory glance at the photo shows a very short wheelbase for a bus that size, very similar to the wheelbase on the existing but very old VITRAN buses. They will be just as effective in making the run along Centerline from Cruz Bay to Salt Pond, but a lot safer and less likely to break down, since they are new. They were paid for with Federal Highway Administration funds, the same fund that repaves your local interstates every summer. Does that make you a “welfare queen”, or someone “expecting a handout”? Sheesh!

    All the best,


    • Remind me again how much do we pay in taxes to the Federal Highway fund that repaves our roads here in the USVI, buys buses and the like.

  5. Just a question…..does this guy actually live in the V.I.???? Does he EVER visit St. John???? Geez, the more I read about him, the more I think about an uprising. I think this guy should take the same route the Director of the Veterans Administration took. Bye, bye! Yes, the next guy could be just as effective or worse!

  6. I have to say…I take the bus. Every weekday. While the drivers and mechanics do an amazing job keeping us safe, the vehicles are rickety, and occasionally scary. Many of our children ride those buses home from after school activities. I’m happy that we’re getting new buses.

  7. Most of the time, from careful observation, the present over-sized buses are only carrying a few folks. It would be more sensible if they were van-sized like St. Thomas taxis. More of them could then run the roads more frequently, making them more popular, and still require less fuel, be less hard on the roads, be much quieter, and easier to maintain. As for the federal funding, is there a requirement to take these huge buses? If so, why? Is this to support a bus manufacturer in a political kick-back? A good civil servant would think about these things and just say ‘no’ to vehicles that do not fit the island, even if they were advertised as free. It is not free if a thing also damages the land, the air, and the people.

  8. This morning for just .75 cents I rode the new tiny bus to Cruz Bay. I was surprised to be picked up at the new Jacobs Ladder stop as I was considering hitching vs walking to town. It was fantastic! Clean, air conditioned, wonderful. We stopped all the stops. Star fish market, tennis court, and the ferry dock. The bus is tiny it works on our tiny roads. AND I would definitely take the coral bay bus (slightly larger) to coral bay and recommend it to folks visiting to do the same for a burger+beer at skinny’s and salt pond.
    Bringing even more business to the other side without more cars. We’ve lived on St. John for two years and will finally buy a car in the next week or so, but I wish that bus was available for every single time I walked up Jacobs ladder or everytime I didn’t and paid $10+ for a taxi ride from town and back.
    I just hope it keeps up, and has some consistency.

    On the other hand get those rediculous ferry off our tiny dock or use them. It’s blocking the view.

Leave a Comment