Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The public transport system and quality of buses in Mauritius

The transport system in Mauritius and the state of its buses are important topics because many Mauritians still rely almost exclusively on public means of transportation. With the huge tax imposed on vehicles, a huge portion of the population in Mauritius is still finding it tough to purchase a car, even with the advantages of leasing. Moreover, even car owners will often use public transport means during weekdays to go to work either because of a lack of parking space or because of the huge traffic congestion, especially if they work in Port Louis (rumors have it that the traffic problem will be "eliminated" by moving it to Ebène instead).

A bus station in Mauritius

$10 says the blue bus will win.


The bus transport system in Mauritius is comprised of four main companies regulated by the National Transport Authority along with numerous individual operators. These four easily recognizable companies are:

  • Rose Hill Transport
  • National Transport Corporation (mostly known as CNT)
  • United Bus Service (commonly known UBS)
  • Triolet Bus Service

I do not know much about the Triolet Bus Service and the individual operators as I do not use them much (ie. not at all). Moreover, my opinion is mainly based on week days since I travel by car on week-ends. However, I daresay there's not much difference between what happens on a weekday and what happens on a Saturday or Sunday other than the fact that more people are puking in the buses and that the bus staff gets irritated quicker.

Out of these four bus operators, Rose Hill Transport is the only one with a website, which can be found at www.rht.mu. Their website has a great layout and offers a lot of useful information including routes and time tables, and is a great resource for anybody who needs to rely exclusively on Rose Hill Transport buses. The other bus operators do not have websites yet. Hopefully, this changes soon as RHT is actually the single company that probably does not need to offer this information since their buses are the most punctual out of the lot.

The fact that their most frequented route (the Port Louis to Rose Hill route) is also covered by CNT and UBS buses also means it's not big deal if you actually miss a Rose Hill Transport bus to Rose Hill or Port Louis. In most cases, you will not have to wait very long before a bus from any of those three companies comes along. In other cases, you could just walk!

However, Rose Hill Transport is now spectacularly popular for the Port Louis-Rose Hill route for a very simple reason. Their air conditioned buses are absolute quality in terms of comfort and the rates are the same as their not-so-quality buses. Contrast this with CNT Blueline buses, which charge higher than their traditional counterparts , and it's not surprising that most Mauritians will flock to these Rose Hill Transport buses as soon as they appear (although I personally think the air conditioning in these buses is a tad too cold, but that's just me).


I win!

Criticisms of the Mauritius transport system


The transport system in Mauritius has been extremely criticized and does not seem like it will end soon, considering most complaints get ignored. The most common complaint concerns the cleanliness of the buses. Many buses, particularly the older ones, are often extremely dirty and consequently harbor annoying insects such as cockroaches. These buses are also quite uncomfortable and there does not seem to be any form on proper maintenance carried out on these buses.

These have of course resulted in a few accidents along the way, such as sudden fires in these buses while they were packed with people and buses break down on a freakishly consistent basis, especially in the morning. The rates ironically keep increasing without any noticeable impact on the bus fleets, and some routes are now EXTREMELY expensive.

Punctuality used to be a huge issue but this is now largely a bad souvenir. Most buses stick to their schedule and will shop up on time, give or take 5 minutes. If they are running late, it usually is due to traffic and there's not much the drivers can do about it. My research (funnily enough, I do research my topics properly before blogging) has indeed shown that the buses in Mauritius actually leave the station according to their schedule. Of course, you do get some who will leave early or late, and sometimes not at all because the bus broke down upon reaching the bus station, but this is a problem that probably cannot be completely eliminated.

One of the most persistent criticisms of recent times concerns the speed at which some drivers work. Many buses are often criticized for going too fast and there have been numerous occasions where these have resulted in accidents. I personally know a couple of individuals who have been involved in accidents with buses, one of which was a serious one. Of course, I'm not saying it's always the bus's fault when an accident involving one occurs, but it would help if they were not going so damn fast in the first place, especially since so many people and children use these.

As usual, don't forget to share this article, especially if you've traveled in a bus in Mauritius during the past 100 years.