Lack of fuel and parts sidelines two-thirds of public buses in Havana, Cuba

Only 294 from a fleet of nearly 900 buses that are part of Havana’s public transportation system are operational. The rest are left parked due to the lack of fuel and replacement parts. The wonders of socialism never cease.

Via Diario de Cuba (my translation):

66% of the buses in Havana are paralyzed

Jose Conesa Gonzalez, the Coordinator of Industry and Transportation in the Government of the Cuban capital, reported Wednesday that out of the 894 buses owned by the state-run Provincial Transportation Company of Havana, only 294 are operational. The information provides for 34% availability, as reported by the newspaper Tribuna de La Habana.

With this bleak mobility outlook for the people in Havana, the official stated that they expect to recover six vehicles in the first half of July, out of the 560 that are currently out of service.

These buses, along with 80 others used for school transportation, will be incorporated into high-demand routes during the summer months in an attempt by the authorities to alleviate the transportation ordeal. The problem not only affects the people of Havana but the entire population of the island.

According to Conesa González, service to the Eastern Beaches, one of the few recreational options for the people in the capital, will be reinforced with 30 school buses. Starting this weekend, passenger transportation to that destination will be resumed, which usually results in overcrowded vehicles during these months.

During the meeting, it was also announced that maritime access to the town of Regla will continue to be suspended throughout July due to the vessels being out of service. Currently, only four buses are providing substitute service for the residents in the area.

Without providing specific dates or guarantees, the official stated that “it is expected to partially reactivate maritime service in August” but “with the implementation of a ferry.”

“At the moment, we are considering adding routes for electric tricycles that will be imported to the country by the end of July,” said Conesa González, without offering further details about this transportation option.

Cuba’s Minister of Transportation, Eduardo Rodríguez Dávila, recently stated that the sector requires freely convertible currency to guarantee fuel, spare parts, and other logistical elements. The lack of such income is attributed, as the regime usually does to explain all the problems affecting Cubans, to the U.S. embargo, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis.

The main transportation bases in Cuba are operating with minimal spare parts, resulting in a technical availability coefficient of less than 50%, as reported by the official newspaper Granma.

“This means that we provide services with less than half of the total available means of transportation, which is further aggravated by the difficult fuel availability situation,” admitted Rodríguez Dávila.

These numbers represent the quantitative sign of the struggle Cubans face to transport themselves from one point to another, both within cities and between provinces.

Luis Ladrón de Guevara, Director of Passenger Transportation at the Ministry of Transportation (MITRANS), stated that this service is “facing one of the most complex moments in recent years.”

In 2022, Cuba transported 1.008 billion passengers, a figure well below the 2.275 billion recorded in 2017 when, also facing enormous difficulties, higher levels were reached.

Thus, the authorities are considering, as reported by state-run newspaper Granma, “expanding electric tricycle routes; incorporating low-tourism minibuses into regular services in Havana and Santiago de Cuba; promoting greater use of bicycles as an alternative means of transportation; recovering the transportation network with state vehicles supporting public passenger transportation; and taking stronger measures against price violations and illegal transporters.”

Unable to resolve the chronic transportation crisis for decades, the government now states, during times of lower tensions, that it “proposes a gradual recovery of services within a three-year period, with the aim of reaching pre-pandemic passenger transportation levels.”

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