The Buses are "Missing"

A bus stop on the outskirts of Alamar was crowded this Tuesday and for hours not a single bus came by. (Jancel Moreno)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 11 September 2019 —  She arrived just before dawn and the first half hour of waiting seemed normal, after 60 minutes passed, dawn broke and the sun began to itch and after two hours at the same stop without a ‘guagua’ — a bus –arriving, Magaly had sore feet and sweat running down her back. In Alamar, this Tuesday morning, hundreds of passengers experienced the same frustration while waiting for a bus to take them to Havana for work or school.

Recent days have been chaotic for public transport in the Cuban capital. The chronic difficulties of moving around the city have been aggravated by reasons not explained in the official press. In the streets there is talk of a deepening of the crisis, the lack of fuel and the most daring talk about when the next “ship with Venezuelan oil” will arrive in the middle of this month, something that supposedly will solve the problem. But all are simply rumors.

What does seem a reality is that mobility within this city is going through one of its worst moments of recent years, while the General Directorate of Havana Provincial Transportation offers no details about the reasons for this deterioration. The sight of buses with people hanging from the doors has returned, something were so common in the difficult years of the so-called Special Period, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the elimination of its financial support for Cuba. The races behind the buses have also returned, with children in uniforms left behind missing classes because the transport never came, and the employees who give up arriving at their offices because the buses never come.

And when a vehicle with their route number is finally sighted, then the accumulated discomfort overflows and people shout, push and complain. The drivers don’t respond to this flood of complaints and must endure the rest of the trip with loud criticisms and a crowded vehicle where passengers can barely move through the aisles.

From time to time someone remembers aloud the official promises that transport in the capital was going to improve “gradually” and the frequent headlines in the national press about buses donated by other countries or repaired and assembled on the Island.

“And why doesn’t the bus come?” a boy with a school neckerchief and a backpack was heard asking at the Alamar stop on Tuesday, after waiting with his mother for two and a half hours on the A62 route. No one answered but nobody laughed either. Only an old man with a wrinkled face dared to say “for the same reason that nothing works in this country” and not one more word had to be added.


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