Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said they are hoping to add three more buses that would be used for the CNMI’s first public transportation system. The bus is for Saipan’s use.
The system aims to encourage the public to use the new mode of transportation to get around the island in order to ease the worsening traffic conditions.
The number of cars on Saipan has increased while no new roads have been built. Long lines of cars have become a common sight, especially in schools in the morning and afternoon when students are being dropped off or picked up.
Traffic also occurs after office hours, with Beach Road going to Garapan the most common place where it happens. Traffic on Saipan used to happen only if there’s an accident, school buses are picking up and dropping off students in designated bus shelters, and funeral processions.
Torres said he met with Commonwealth of Office Transport executive director Alfreda Camacho to discuss the issue. “We already have one bus here and what we’re trying to do is to have a dry run of the route either the end of the month or early April.”
“We’re working on getting more buses. Maybe, at least two or three more for the public,” said Torres, who is hoping the new transportation system would encourage people to commute.
The bus, which cost $344,293 and funded by the Department of the Interior, would take the Garapan-Middle Road-Northern Marianas College-Koblerville-Beach Road route.
“I also just spoke to COTA and we’re trying to inspect the bus first. We’re going to take a look at the route and do a dry run. [COTA’s] also going to set up the bus stops first. Then we’re going to have a formal launching,” said Torres.
The planned bus route will start at the Commonwealth Health Center and go south on Middle Road toward As Terlaje Hill at the Northern Marianas College. The bus would continue to Shell Dandan, turn right to As Lito and to Han Nam Road in Koblerville and work its way to Beach Road all the way to the front of the Hyatt Regency Saipan and back to the hospital.
Converting the Garapan business and tourist district into a one-way road, constructing a roundabout, and installing stoplights are some of the other ideas being considered.
Traffic incidents, from accidents to different violations, have also increased with the high volume of vehicles on the road.
MD: Admin to add at least three more buses