Trinidad & Tobago: Derailing Rapid Rail?

The Trinidad and Tobago government has plans for a $15 billion rapid rail project intended to ease the nation's traffic congestion, but as guest writer Driselle Ramjohn writes at, industry experts as well as the local arm of Transparency International are calling for the procurement process to be put on hold until research and feasibility studies are carried out.


  • I am a Trinidadian who used to live in london and now live in Stockholm, Sweden, where there are both underground and overground trains.
    London deleloped the way it has because of the the underground, as while it was being built the rail company bought land along the routes and planned and built communities , so that people who bought these properties lived suburban but worked urban.
    Stockholm is even more well planned, and it uses the Tunnelbana and the Pendeltog as its backbone, along with an extensive and reliable bus system which works cause there are much less cars on the road than there would be if there were no train.
    I think for Trinidad to develop we must have a mass transit system, but in such an earthquake affected area, and corruption ridden society
    its a good idea to plan and disclose these plans to the public before embarking on a 15 billion dollar capital intensive project.
    PS does that figure include running costs?

  • i am actually involved in something 0_o

    I in Chaguanas,Trinidad and i am a secondary school student my school is very far from where i live and i am always affected the ridiculous amount of traffic on the highway i really want the rapid rail but the people who own the maxi fleets and live about 1-10 km away from they job make up all sorts of ridiculous ideas about why we shouldnt build it like pollution.(since when is everyone mr.enviromental!?)Even though I may sound like i dont care about the enviroment i do and if they are serious about saving the enviroment they should stop littering and ask for a recycling center.anyway I think with all development comes sacrifices and risks and this is one of them.So i agree with the Rapid Rail project.

  • Franklyn Jeremiah

    I live at Maloney, Trinidad & I use the bus to commute to and from work. I guess this my tend to colour my view on this whole rail project.
    Can Bus Rapid Transit work for Trinidad and Tobago?
    Every weekday, mornings and afternoons represent an inescapable challenge for persons trying to get into and out of the city of Port of Spain. “What the hell to do about the traffic, wasted time and crazy driving?” We seem to be fast approaching the point where there will be more vehicles than available road space. The taxis seem to disappear during peak periods, the maxis are driven crazily and more often than not drop passengers off at Curepe on mornings, and the bus company, PTSC, although finally getting its act together, certainly at present is incapable of dealing with the situation.
    As part of its Vision 20/20 the Government plans to spend millions of dollars to deliver a Tram? Subway? Monorail? Light Rail? Rapid Rail? Nobody seems sure at this point. What is to become of the Priority Bus Route? Trams, Subways, Monorails, and Lightrails have three major drawbacks in our current setting. Firstly the cost is daunting. Secondly, because they require special infrastructure, the implementation time from decision to first phase delivery is at least 28 months. Thirdly, any plan that, during construction will cause the Priority Bus route to be out of use during rush hours will result in untold chaos!
    The faster and less expensive alternative is a revitalised PTSC-run Bus Rapid Transit solution using a guided busway from Port of Spain to Sangre Grande and Curepe to San Fernando along the former Trinidad Government Railway Line.
    BRT as a traffic solution?
    Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a broad term given to a variety of different transportation systems, that, through infrastructural and scheduling improvements, attempt to use buses to provide a service that is of a higher quality than an ordinary bus line. Each BRT system utilizes different improvements, although many improvements are shared by many BRT systems. The goal of such systems is to at least approach the service quality of rail transit while still enjoying the cost savings of bus transit. The expression “BRT” is mainly used in North America. Elsewhere, one may speak of Quality Bus or simply Bus service while raising the quality.
    “Bus rapid transit” takes part of its name from “Rapid Transit” which describes a high-capacity rail transport system with its own right-of-way, its alignment often being elevated or running in tunnels, and typically running long trains on short routes of a few minutes. Because of the name similarity one tends to associate the merits of “Rapid Transit” also with the newer “BRT” expression.
    The BRT term encompasses a broad variety of modes, including those known or formerly known as Express Buses, Commuter Express Buses, Limited & Non Stop Buses, Limited Busways and Rapid Busways.

    What makes a BRT?
    These bus systems can come in a variety of different forms, from dedicated busways that have their own rights-of-way, to bus services that utilize ‘ Hire Only Vehicle’ lanes and dedicated freeway lanes to limited and non stop buses on pre-existing routes.
    An ideal Bus Rapid Transit Service would be expected to include some or all of the following features:
    • High-frequency, all-day service: Like other forms of rapid transit, BRT serves a diverse all-day market. Commuter Express Buses that run only during rush hours are not Bus Rapid Transit.
    • Bus-dedicated, grade-separated right-of-way: Right-of-way may be separated from all other traffic and dedicated to bus use. Such right of way may sometimes be elevated.
    • Bus lanes: A lane on an urban arterial or city street is reserved for the exclusive or near-exclusive use of buses.
    • Bus signal preference and preemption: Preferential treatment of buses at intersections can involve the extension of green time or actuation of the green light at signalized intersections upon detection of an approaching bus. Intersection priority can be particularly helpful when implemented in conjunction with bus lanes or streets, because general-purpose traffic does not intervene between buses and traffic signals.
    • Traffic management improvements: Low-cost infrastructure elements that can increase the speed and reliability of bus service include increased bus turnouts, bus boarding islands, and curb realignments.
    • Level boarding: Many BRT systems also use low floor buses (or high level platforms with standard floor buses) to speed up passenger boarding and enhance accessibility. Low floor buses offer better access to all passengers, including wheelchair users and pushchairs (like all parts of the bus, spaces in these areas are apt to be on a first come first served basis). Low floor buses should initially be allocated to the most popular services and those routes which carry most passengers, eventually expanding to other routes where practicable. Low-floor buses’, passenger compartment have a floor which is considerably lower than that of traditional models. A recent development in the transport industry, vehicles of this type have a stepless entry and usually have an area without seating next to at least one of the doors where wheelchairs can be parked. In addition to improving accessibility, low floors also allow fully-mobile passengers to board more quickly, and in some cases can produce improvements in overall speeds.

    • Improved riding quality with guided buses.
    • Increased capacity: Articulated, bi-articulated and or double decker buses.
    A BRT system may have a dedicated roadway in areas where traffic congestion is greatest or to bypass mixed traffic to reach the central business district (or “downtown”), but also utilizes existing highways and roadways where traffic is lighter to reduce costs. Optimally, such routes offer advantages over regular bus service with greater service frequency, increased capacity, and higher speed. BRT systems with an exclusively used right-of-way offer the prospect of a more comfortable ride than a normal bus immersed in stop-and-go traffic.
    The key argument in favor of BRT systems is that they can provide a quality of service similar to light rail or rapid transit systems, but at greatly reduced capital investment in vehicles and right-of-way. Key to this assumption is the utilization of existing streets, so that capital costs in these areas are only for the vehicles themselves and additional street furniture required for operation. Road maintenance costs are often not attributed to the bus service.
    BRT can be faster to implement and more affordable, flexible, and appropriate in scale than light rail. Buses also have a great deal of flexibility and can easily be rerouted when necessary.
    The possibility of incremental construction and implementation means that a BRT system can be easily tailored to meet the specific transportation needs and opportunities within individual neighborhoods and transportation corridors.
    In addition, bus rapid transit is often linked with intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and can involve special buses that control traffic signals, smart card systems, automatic vehicle location, dynamic message signs, and guided busways.
    Bus Rapid Transit Systems are currently in operation in Calgary, Halifax, Quebec, Montreal, Ontario, British Columbia, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Oregon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minnesota, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Seattle, Bogotá Colombia, Florianópolis & Curitiba Brazil, Santiago Chile, Barquisimeto& Mérida Venezuela, Lima Peru, Taipei, Hangzhou & Beijing China, Jakarta Indonesia, Nagoya, Japan, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane & Perth Australia, Auckland New Zealand, Nantes France, Schiphol & Eindhoven The Netherlands, London, Bradford, Plymouth, Berkshire Dorset, York, Ipswich, Leeds, Manchester, Colchester, Oldham, Northampton, Glasgow, Leicester and Crawley, in the UK.

  • Michael

    Opportunities for the GOTT to accomplish the proposed Rapid Transit Project abound. Perhaps Franklyn’s idea is perfect, please write me Franklyn at my email

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