Transport in Cuba
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Urban Transportation in Cuba

Urban Transportation in Cuba

May 4, 2012

Janis Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES, May 4 — Urban transportation, as the system vehicles for

moving people within cities, is one of the most pressing problems in Cuba.

Our economic and logistic inability to purchase automobiles is the

result of the economic embargo on the island, but it's also due to the

disastrous handling, decision making and allocation of resources by the

government.

The result was people doing all types of things to get a car, since

private exchanges were illegal. Only recently was the selling of cars

decriminalized.

The inventiveness of Cubans is unlimited when it comes to survival and

tackling one of our biggest daily headaches: transportation. To deal

with this, people have implemented several ways to achieve the movement

of so many souls outside of the fabulous world of the individually owned

automobile.

State-administered public transportation has not succeeded, is not

succeeding and will never succeed at supplying the ever-increasing needs

of the population (paraphrasing the terminology of our old "scientific

communism" courses, now renamed "socio-political theory").

So, leaving us no choice, we've had to turn to private transportation,

thanks to which we can usually get to where we're going on time or not

arrive as late as we would otherwise.

What's curious is that this means of transportation in Cuba has a range

of providers.

One form is of course the fixed-route, multi-passenger jitney taxis,

which are mostly old Fords, Chevrolet, Willys, etc. In Havana these have

been baptized "almendrones" (or "big almonds") owing to the shapes of

those enormous jalopies from the 1950s).

People also ride on motorcycle/taxis, individually-owned TZ, MZ, Jaguas

or other brands of motorcycles dating back to the 80's, which was when

they were imported here from the countries of the now-extinct East

European socialist bloc.

Another form of transport is in trucks and vans that cover the same

routes as the public buses. These are most commonly used in places like

Santiago de Cuba.

With no shortage of mechanics, some of these creative individuals came

up with "Bici-taxis" (bicycle-rickshaws), which take fourth place on the

list of the most used forms of transportation here. What's most notable

is that these aren't phenomena unique to this or that city; bicycling is

used in every city and town in Cuba to get people here and there.

And since we're such a traditionalist people, there's always the

horse-drawn wagon, that ancient means of past centuries. As singer

Silvio Rodriguez once said: "The past is winning new fame."

What's more, this form of locomotion in not used exclusively in the

historic city of Bayamo, where most citizens get around in wagons and

carriages. Nor is it limited to the streets of Old Havana, where it can

be seen as a kind of gimmick to entertain tourists with memories of

colonial Cuba.

In all provincial capitals, municipalities and villages, horse-pulled

wagons play a significant role in getting people to work and schools, to

appointments, or just being able to travel from more distant locations.

Our different types of urban transportation will one day be museum

pieces that illustrate how we lived in Cuba for more than half a century.

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=69199 Tags: embargo, illegal, public transportation, transport, travel

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