BVI News

Hard to catch a ride! Motorists reluctant to offer rides since COVID

By Kamal Haynes, BVI News

In a small and close-knit society like the BVI, ‘catching a ride’ with passing vehicles is an established culture for commuting non-drivers.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting several aspects of the territory, it has seemingly trickled down to some motorists who have now developed a reluctance in offering rides to pedestrians along the roadway.

This was the general consensus of a number of motorists and pedestrians during recent interviews with BVI News.

Our news centre sought responses from several residents across Tortola, and one female retiree said the COVID-19 virus has changed her usual approach of randomly stopping to offer strangers rides.

“I still give people rides but I try to stick with people that I know. Before [the pandemic], I’d pick up anyone but not anymore. So I just usually pick up people that I know, people in my neighbourhood that I see every day. But other than that, I really don’t pick up strangers anymore,” she said while opting to remain anonymous.

The woman, who is the owner of Suzuki Grand Vitara, said based on how her mind is presently conditioned, offering rides to strangers might remain a thing of the past even after the pandemic ends.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get back to that position again, honestly. Today you don’t know who is who and who has what so I’m a little sceptical now. So it might be awhile before I get back to that. Like I said, it is a new normal so I don’t think I’ll go back to giving strangers rides like that,” she expressed.

Too many unknowns

For another female motorist who resides in Huntum’s Ghut, she too has been very reluctant to offer rides and said she sees why other motorists would also take that approach.

“You don’t know who these persons have been in contact with. You don’t know where they’re coming from, even. You don’t know where they touch and they could come into your vehicle and literally leave the virus in your vehicle,” she stated.

“It could infect you and if you have kids or if you family or elderly that you’re taking care of. All of that have to be considered,” she added.

Hard to recognise familiar faces with masks

One male taxi operator explained that he occasionally gives rides to people he knows. But with the mandatory mask-wearing policy in effect, it has made it very difficult to identify familiar faces while driving by.

On multiple occasions, this is one deterrent that has resulted in him not stopping to pick up persons seeking rides.

“Even as a taxi driver, I pass people either because of two things. Halfway down the road I [didn’t] recognise who you was because of the mask. That’s number-one. And it’s just that everybody supposed to stay six feet and keep social distance and you ain’t know who got it,” he further explained.

He continued: “So, it just in your mind to just leave people out. You’re trying to keep to yourself and all these different things. But the mask is a serious problem. Not to say it ain’t working nor it don’t help. But recognition-wise, the mask throw everything out the window.”

Longer waiting times when catching a ride

BVI News also spoke to a male pedestrian who frequently catches rides to commute across Tortola. 

He said that since COVID, the typical waiting times to receiving a ride has significantly increased.

“Usually when I catch rides before COVID, it was hard as a guy. But it wasn’t as bad. I live in Hannah’s so before COVID, around 9 o’clock in the morning I would get a ride within 10 to 15 minutes. But now, it’s like 20 to 25 minutes longer that I am waiting cause nobody ain’t really trusting people to give them rides,” he explained.

“Then when I try to catch a ride to Hannah’s from town, now it’s even a longer wait. It takes me 30 to 40-plus minutes sometimes and if I don’t know the person, it takes even longer just to catch a ride,” he added.

Relies on neighbours if commuting to town

The Hannah’s Estate resident also said that since COVID, he has been forced to heavily rely on his neighbours to get to and from Road Town.

“A lot of persons, if they don’t know you personally, them ain’t going really stop and try give you a ride and sometimes I would catch a bus. But the bus ain’t always there since you have to be on the bus timing to catch the bus from Craft Alive to Hannahs.”

“Most times I does just try to stay out of town. But if I need to go into town, I would mostly catch a ride with a neighbour because it’s difficult. Then I would try to see when they’re returning home and try to catch a ride with them because I know I’ll get a straight ride home. So that’s what I’ve been doing,” he explained.

Increase in usage of Free Shuttle Ride initiative

BVI News also reached out to Transport Minister, Kye Rymer who said government’s free shuttle service – which is now available territory-wide – has seen an increase in usage since its inception.

“I know the numbers went up and it’s an encouragement. But it would be good to encourage more persons to utilise the service. We have protocols in place, we have the dispatchers in place, we make sure that we follow the schedule.

Minister Rymer also revealed plans to expand some of the routes being offered on the islands.

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  1. An Opportunity says:

    Just a thought or 2

    With times so hard, can no one use their vehicle as a $2 taxi transportation from Lockwood Pond to RT and back at scheduled times? When persons get in make sure to have them wear mask throughout the journey. When they get off in RT or wherever in the westerly direction spray down your vehicle with alcohol. Have set times for when uses can catch your transport – like 4 trips per day – 2 in each direction. If you have a safari bus, this even better. Let’s do some thinking on how to also economically survive the pandemic.

    For those that catch rides on a regular, why not hook up with someone and possibly pay a few $$$ weekly especially if going in same directions on a daily basis – $5 per week or $20 per month is still a help to the driver and the ride catcher.

    All has to come together and help each other.

    Those shuttles running around RT should be extended to other areas during certain morning and afternoon times. A win win for sll

    Like 11
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    • lol says:

      The Taxi man them will hunt you down

      Like 18
      Dislike 1
    • @an opportunity says:

      There is a daily scheduled bus service from Road Town to West End (as far as Soper’s Hole and Carrot Bay) and vice versa. Just $3.00 per person each direction 496-7722.

      Like 6
      Dislike 3
    • Deh Watcha says:

      How about if you regularly catch a ride with someone, on one of those occasions you just tell them pull into their regular gas station and top up the tank with a $10 or $20?

      They will appreciate that much more.

      Like 3
      Dislike 3
    • Rubber Duck says:

      It is a national disgrace that we do not have a proper regular bus service. The Fahie government in its early days conducted a survey on this. Then bowed down to the taxi drivers and buried the project.

      We need a proper, regular , inexpensive bus service.

      Like 6
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  2. Boo says:

    Nobody wants the rona

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  3. hmm says:

    some want catch ride with u everyday and dont say look a 10 dollar for gas.

    Like 30
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    • @hmmm says:

      You not easy…. you want to get paid, get a taxi plate.

      Like 8
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    • Ok says:

      But are you both not going in the same direction? Which, to you, is better: a) 2 pennies today or b) blessings from God above for doing good?

      Many times not everything is about money. One never knows when a situation could be in the reverse. Today they might catch ride with you; tomorrow you may end up catching ride with them.

      Do good, good will follow you in unexpected ways.

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      • Tim says:

        I agree that one should help others but remember there is wear and tear on the vehicle. If s person expects to catch a ride every day, why can’t he/she offers to give something for gas?
        I have a problem when people feel entitled to my vehicle. No one helps when you have to take your vehicle to the garage and have to fork out what you even don’t have.

        Like 18
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        • @ok says:

          It goes both ways. Some should not be content with just receiving rides day after day and never offering anything. It is just basic human courtesy. No one is expecting pay but a show of gratitude and thoughtfulness once in a while goes a long way. Vehicles have worn out picking up people everyday.When the person is heavy the vehicles sink down on the side. No one is there to help with repairs. Most people do not mind giving rides but from observation many habitually let buses or taxi pass them, don’t waint to pay them but want free rides.

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      • Two cents. says:

        I’ll take my two pennies today. Thanks.

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    • TruDat! says:

      I gave a man a ride up Great Mountain once and he asked ME for $10 at the end. LOL

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    • @hmmm says:

      You got a point, when I get a ride which is very rare, I always tell the person to pull up at the gas and pay for their gas or give them cash.

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    • Greedy says:

      Boi some ppl really greedy

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  4. Bad minded says:

    An agin “coronavirus” is an excuse to be selfish in the bvi the were bad minded even before the virus, the bvi will always be an island with the most wicked ppl and I don’t mean the bvi ppl only, expats and ppl that get belongers status are worst,
    Always remember there is a god you might refuse to give someone a ride because of your selfishness and one day you might be in a situation that the same person you refuse to give a ride you will need there help

    Like 8
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    • Wow says:

      You really sitdown; standup or laydown and write this crap and labelling people selfish! Do you realise people are not obligated to give others a ride in their private vehicle.

      Some folks who catching ride feels as if vehicle owners are obligated to stop. NO! They are not. And they want to get vex with you for your ride that you paying the bank for. I seriously dont get this blogger. Wow!

      Imagine; I give someone a ride and another vehicle hit me from the back. The person I give a ride get whiplash and turnaround and sue me for medical bills. You see where I going with this. Some of you ride beggers are wicked. No riders pls!

      Like 32
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    • @bad minded says:

      Yes the bvi is an island with the most wicked people because the majority of the bvi is expat which are wicked people.

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  5. Wow says:

    Government need to put $2.00 – $3.00 buses around the island like the rest of Caribbean islands.
    Places that need…..
    Lower Estate, Huntum Ghaut, Horsepath, Slaney Hill
    Taxi are too expensive

    Like 14
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  6. Driver says:

    I will give a person a ride however, if the person is not wearing a mask, I will refuse to give the person a ride. NO MASK, NO RIDE.

    Like 20
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  7. Windy says:

    The “set up” a few months back where a girl thumbing for a ride then her boyfriend suddenly appears to rob you stopped me from giving rides.

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  8. Hmmm says:

    Why is this news? Catch a $2.00 bus. What ride? No one is obligated to give anyone a ride.

    Like 8
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  9. Another Driver says:

    I usually carry some extra masks in my vehicle and I will only pick up a elderly person or a child living in my neighborhood. If they don’t have a mask, I will offer them one. I only give a person a ride in my vehicle if they agree to wear a mask.

    Like 6
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  10. El Bunko says:

    Better get used to riding the rona taxis, cause R—r going to make sure the little man cannot buy low cost transportation without going to the bank.

  11. Be kind says:

    I used to beg this lady ride she refused because I never had a vehicle.i was later able afford one her vehicle was in the garage she was on the side of the road begging ride I didn’t realize it was her so I stopped when I realize it was her the speed I took off with when I saw it was her.

    Like 5
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  12. Lol says:

    No lie but I be vex when they stick out they hand for ride lol. Like who and you catching da rona? Better wait for the taxi!

    Like 5
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  13. My my says:

    When will people start paying for public transportation and stop trying relying on others. Giving free rides cost the car owner more money at the end of the day and the government even more money to take people that came from a culture of paying for transportation. Why are we trying to make transportation free for everyone? There are so many people that make a living out of transportation people from East to west of this island. Help these people feed their families.

  14. Problem says:

    No COVID issue, but I always pick up ladies at Purcel / Quomar going home. For 7 years no problem, every day. One day, young man jump in with them, going BelleView. He reaches under my seat an take all my purse, credit cards, license, cash all gone. Ladies in back right beside him say nothing. NO MORE RIDERS, EVER. What’s wrong with you people?

  15. Wa kyna says:

    So familiar faces must be immune to the disease. Those familiar faces were once upon a time strangers….

  16. Foreigner says:

    Everywhere Jesus went, he walked, or rode a donkey plus he was doing good, now all you people want to do is pollute the man’s earth, with ah smoke fumes and stinky selves, most times you give people ride yoyr vehicle either smell like weed, stale drunk and some pitts is hogher than cost of living, you can smell the stench for weeks.
    Sonce you never help me buy my vehicle nor help me pay my car note I don’t care what nor how you feel, move out my way or I probably will splash you too.
    We living in the real world today just deal with it, these days you can’t even help people not even blood, people aren’t nice anymore, so you stay in your lane and I will stay in mine and please lets not meet by accident.

    Like 1
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  17. Free taxi says:

    I know some persons are struggling and dont drive and will happily give a ride to those in need.

    If you are someone that relies on this please make sure you do the following:

    1. wear a mask when you are waiting on the side of the road. I wouldnt stop if you were not.

    2. Don’t just sit in the vehicle and say nothing. ask the person how their day is going and show some gratitude. So many folks I give a ride to get in the back and dont say a word like they ordered an uber.

    See whether that changes your luck.

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