First public transit route activated


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres along with Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, Chief Justice Alexandro Castro, and members of the Legislature cut the ribbon before the activation of the first-ever public transportation route from Paseo de Marianas to Northern Mariana College. (Erwin Encinares)

The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority yesterday activated their first-ever public transportation route at the Paseo de Marianas in Garapan.

COTA yesterday revealed the activation of their first-ever bus route, which starts at the Northern Marianas College and ends at Paseo de Marianas, Garapan. The route, known as the “Flame Tree Line A1”is open from 6:30am to 7pm for weekdays and 6:30am to 4pm for Saturdays. No buses are in operation on Sundays and holidays.

Tickets cost $2 for adults and youth ages 12 above and $1 for youth ages 11 below, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. Each ticket is valid for the next two hours from purchase and veterans and people with disabilities are required to register before hand in order to avail of their discount.

The route would start from NMC and runs through Middle Road, cut through the Commonwealth Health Center; loop around the hotel district in Garapan; and vice versa. The route consists of 16 stops from start to finish with the Safety 1st Systems as its halfway point. The bus leaves for each end every two hours start from 6:30am. The route’s last scheduled trip is scheduled at 4:30pm for weekdays and 2:30 pm for Saturdays.

“This is where the businesses are; this is where our kids are,” said COTA special assistant for public transportation Alfreda Camacho, explaining why COTA chose this route to initiate public transportation in the CNMI.

“When [students] need to come down [to Garapan] for whatever reason—to study or grab lunch, etc.,” she said, adding that the route was ideal for NMC nursing students who need to visit the hospital for their nursing internships.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres in an interview said the public transit service was designed for the community. He urges the public to avail of the service.

“…This is to give those who are in need of transportation for work, interviews, check ups, etc. Again, this is the first time ever and we are excited to make this successful and to expand the program,” said Torres prior to driving off in one of the two buses available for the route. Torres added that COTA also had Rota and Tinian in its scope for public transit.

Torres is one of five who joined the first ride of the route from Paseo de Marianas to NMC. With him were Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), House vice speaker Janet U. Maratita (R-Saipan), Rep. Donald Barcinas (R-Saipan), and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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