The George Town shuttle service pilot programme which was launched by the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure in November last year, will conclude on Friday, May 28.
The free hop-on hop-off shuttle service was piloted by the Ministry through its National Energy Policy and George Town Revitalisation Initiative, to assess if it would reduce traffic in and around central George Town and address the issue of limited available parking in the central business district.
When the pilot was launched, the purpose was to use the data to inform a long term alternative transportation plan. A feedback form was made available on the bus and on the energy.gov.ky website for passengers to recommend bus stop locations and provide suggestions for the service. As a result of this feedback, the initial three-month project was extended for an additional three months to May 28, with a new route which included Fosters Airport Centre and Kirk Market. An app was also developed that allowed passengers to track shuttle locations.
Cayman Islands Government Energy Policy Coordinator Kristen Augustine noted, “We piloted the free shuttle service to assess the publics’ willingness to use alternative transportation to aid in the reduction of traffic and address the parking issues in the town. The service gained some traction over time and we received very positive feedback from members of the public. In addition, we now have some understanding of the community needs, and we will be able to feed the information into a longer term transportation plan”.
George Town Manager Colin Lumsden said the shuttle service aligned well with the George Town revitalisation initiative. “The primary objective of the shuttle service was to help reduce car trips by allowing the community to travel within the George Town area via an APP based public shuttle, it also provided the opportunity to “park and ride” as the immigration parking lot provided free parking. We are pleased with efforts by everyone who participated in the program, and look forward in our continued efforts to alleviate traffic and provide viable transportation options in the George Town area”
Some 60 passengers used the service during its first week. Over the past months, the Ministry has initiated a number of programmes to support the George Town shuttle and promote alternative transportation, and this helped to steadily increase the number of passengers to over 1000 per week. The other initiatives included a Cayman Islands Government Responsible Travel Scheme that was launched for the month of February and had employees of the Government Administration Building scan a QR code to earn points for prizes each time they used the shuttle, carpooled, or rode a bicycle. An island wide Car Free Week was organized in March to encourage persons to utilize alternative transportation. This included a free park and ride service that was provided from five locations on the island to George Town with the shuttle being available every day to transport persons around town. A bikeshare programme was also made available in partnership with Cycle Cayman as part of a three- month trial which was extended for an additional 6 months to July 2021. The Ministry contracted Cycle Cayman to provide the bicycles at the Government Administration Building which were then free for civil servants to use.
Minister for Tourism and Transport, Hon. Kenneth Bryan noted that “the information gained from the shuttle bus pilot project will be very useful as we discuss longer-term transportation solutions for the Cayman Islands. I would like to thank the Ministry for their efforts in trying a different approach, which has allowed us to get additional data to inform our future deliberations around transportation systems.”
Hon. Jay Ebanks, Minister for Planning Agriculture Housing and Infrastructure, observed that “having the results of the pilot project will be beneficial to my Ministry’s efforts in the on-going George Town Revitalization Plan, as well as our overall discussions regarding the future physical development of the islands.”
Commending the Ministry for the innovative pilot project, and acknowledging the great service the George Town Shuttle has provided, the Honorable Premier and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency Wayne Panton stated, “pilot projects like the George Town Shuttle are useful tools that allow us to test and trial solutions before making significant investments and implementing at scale. They also provide us with useful data to inform future discussions and policy”.