14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 4 January 2022 — The lights of the bus that covered route A3 in Havana last night were barely shining ten meters ahead. “Look, there is the long one and you can hardly see anything,” the driver complained. “The head of the base told me that the mechanic had fixed it, but nothing, this does not work, so I do not know what changed,” he said annoyed, but although the visibility was so limited, he did not seem to fear for the trip. “I know the route like the back of my hand.”
The driver’s assistant, in charge of collecting the fares, also helped to put the gears with the lever. “Help me for a while because this is tiring,” asked the driver. “As you can see, this bus is ramshackle, the gearbox is bad and I drop second and third gear, so you have to keep a steady hand pressing the lever when these gears are engaged,” explained the driver before the unusual scene that threatened the passage.
These anomalies illustrate the state of the public transport equipment in the capital. “Of the 878 buses that the capital owns, 435 are in use, which represents 49%,” Leandro Méndez Peña, general director of Transportation in Havana, recently explained.
The official added that one of the solutions to optimize the shortage of vehicles was to authorize a greater capacity as long passengers wore their masks correctly and the buses were constantly sanitized. These measures, far from solving the problem, were the breeding ground for a series of thefts of cell phones and wallets to be unleashed inside the crowded buses.
Nor has the hygiene maintenance measure been visible. Many vehicles move around the city with a notorious filthiness and, in some cases, the breakdowns are patched with flagrant precariousness, as in the case of a bus that used old cardboard to cover holes in the floor, as 14ymedio was able to verify in a journey the last week.
Split seats, doors and windows without hinges or boarded up with metal plates in the absence of glass and the articulated accordions totally smashed are images that are repeated on any of the routes that travel through Havana every day.
On the afternoon of this Monday, a Chinese made Yutong-brand bus that was transporting some workers from the AICA laboratories back home circulated along Cerro Avenue, awakening murmurs among several passers-by who were stunned when they realized that one of the rear tires was missing.
“I was standing with my daughter trying to catch a bus to Esquina de Tejas, when I saw that it stopped in front of me to drop off two workers from the company,” a resident told 14ymedio. The driver of the state vehicle closed the door just as the man asked if he could take them.
“At that moment I got a little upset, because the bus was almost empty.” However, when he noticed that one of the tires was missing on the right double wheel on the rear axle, he changed his mind. “I am surprised that he can drive in those conditions,” said a passerby. Meanwhile, he commented to his little girl: “We will wait a little longer, sometimes what happens is serendipitous, and that bus can crash at any time.”
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