Incidents of bus vandalism cropping up in Havana
The rear-view mirror shows the driver that something is wrong. He stops the bus and walks to the back of the bus. When he gets there he sees three young bikers still hanging onto bumper. When the bikers notice his presence, they sped away, with one of them stealing a vital machine part.
Due to this "stunt," the bus has to be taken to the repair shop, where it stays for eight days. Out of service, it was unable to transport some 40,000 passengers, given that these buses make 12 daily trips with 400 people on each.
The story is told to Juventud Rebelde by Raúl Gleang Martínez, a driver of Chinese-built Yutong bus 5069, one of the buses recently bought by Cuba to solve the severe transportation problems in the capital. The drivers bus has been in service for only a month and it has already suffered its first attack.
Raúl Gleang says that this incident is minor considered to others he has had to put up with in his 20 years of service. "Stealing that part is nothing compared to other more dangerous acts of vandalism that I have dealt with," he notes.
The driver was once threatened by a passenger with a knife, while others have verbally attacked him because he demands discipline in the bus and forbids smoking or drinking alcohol in the public vehicle.
Raúl is a worker at the Playa municipal bus station, where 25 new Chinese buses began to operate just a month ago. Despite the short time of use, some of the buses already carry the signatures of a few vandals tattooed inside.
One of these vehicles is Bus 5080, which has a dent on the front from a recent stoning. Body-workers will try to hide the damage, but the mark of vandalism will be difficult to erase.
Bus 5081, another new Yutong, also shows signs of violence. A man, who was not picked up by the driver because he was not at the bus stop, hit the bus with a pipe.
Similar stories surface in the other Havana bus stations. The more than 20 drivers interviewed agree that it is necessary to immediately stop the mistreatment and abuse that adds risk to their profession dangerous.
Sadly, these offences are taking place just as modest improvements to Havanas urban transportation system have begun. In a meeting held in the provincial government headquarters, it was said that improvement in service along the citys main routes has already begun, as well as additional signposting and the repair of several bus stations and stops across the city.