The public transportation here in Mississauga is amazing! Miway, I love you… I really do. You’re always there for me when I need you, I get to ride you for free, and you drop me right outside my house… what’s not to love?! Back home, we have a bus “system”…. but it’s not really fair to call it a system because there is nothing systematical about it whatsoever.
The way the buses work in St. Maarten compared to Canada are extremely different. Here in Mississauga the buses are on schedules, there are different routes, the buses have numbers and directions, and they’re actual buses. When I say actual buses, I mean that they don’t look like this:
There’s a base fee of $1.50 to ride the bus on St. Maarten, and the price goes up by 50 cents for every district you pass through. Since not all buses run in the same area, it’s really common to have to take two buses to get to most destinations. On average, taking the bus is going to cost around $3.00 based on where you’re coming from, where you’re headed, and how many districts you pass through. Here, a bus ticket is $3.25 CAD, you actually get a ticket, and it’s valid for 2 hours from the time you buy it.
For example, the area I live in is called Cole Bay, and the only buses that pass through that area go towards Marigot, which is the capital of the French Side, and Philipsburg, which is the capital of the Dutch Side. If I wanted to go to Simpson Bay, or Mullet Bay Beach, I would automatically have to take two buses. Since there aren’t tickets, you pay each time you get on a new bus.
The fact that we get a free bus pass for being students at UTM is amazing, but I feel like even without the bus passes I wouldn’t mind taking the bus, and here’s why:
The way the buses are organized here makes taking them hassle-free. There are schedules at each bus stop, real bus stops, and different buses that take you to different parts of town. On St. Maarten the bus drives along the same road, but the stops are completely random depending on how many people are on the bus and where they’re headed.
So, since there are no schedules, and no guarantee of seeing a bus drive by… how exactly would one go about taking a bus on St. Maarten? I’ve broken it down into 6 very short and simple steps:
- Step 1: Walk to the main road.
- Step 2: Wait until you see a bus heading towards the area you’re going to.
- Step 3: Wave it down with your hands.
- Step 4: Get on the bus.
- Step 5: Whenever you’re ready to get off, simply say, “Bus, stop.”
- Step 6: Pay the driver the fare and get off.
Like I said, its simple and easy, but it’s also very unreliable. Waiting for a bus can take anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour depending on where you’re taking it from, where you’re headed, and what time it is. With the Miway, I know I don’t have to worry about that because the buses are on a schedule that they stick to most of the time. I’m used to the freedom of being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want since I have a scooter back home.
So for me, the Miway buses still give me that sense of being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want up to a certain degree. By this I mean that the buses stop running around 1am, which is a bit of an inconvenience but in St. Maarten they stop running around 10pm… so, who am I to complain?!
Just remember this the next time you’re waiting for the bus thinking
“Oh man, this bus is so late, ughhh”
because at least you know the bus will actually show up, unless there’s severe weather, but even then Miway still does its best to notify people of the route changes and cancellations.
If your town, or island has a similar “broken” bus system, and you appreciate all that Miway does, feel free to tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to read about your best and worst busing experiences!