Arrindell announces rules for cross-border bus servicesPOSTED: 06/24/16 9:10 PM
St. Maarten News – The Dutch and the French side have come together to regulate trans-border bus transportation, Minister Ingrid Arrindell (Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication) said at Wednesday’s press briefing. A meeting with Vice President of the Collectivité Guillaume Arnell was inspired by the large influx of Dutch busses on the –Marigot-Philipsburg route.
Minister Arrindell said that many of the Dutch-side bus drivers are not allowed to work on the French side because they do not have the required D-license that is required for driving a bus and they do not have French nationality.
Currently the Dutch bus drivers outnumber the French ones; Arrindell and Arnell agreed to limit the number of Dutch bus drivers allowed to work on the French side to 30. According to the minister, there are currently 15 Dutch side bus drivers qualified to work on the French side.
Qualified bus drivers will get a French bus permit with a picture ID that is valid for five years and a sticker that should be visible on the bus to facilitate controls by the gendarmerie.
The trouble with the buses are manifold. Arrindell mentioned that many buses are in bad conditions and therefore provide bad service. Many Dutch-side drivers do not follow existing routes but create their own itinerary in and around Marigot. Some do not make the required turn into the bus terminal and venture onto domestic routes that are reserved for French-side bus drivers.
Furthermore, there are many illegal Dutch-side buses that use the Marina Royale bus stop and the authorities have spotted reckless behavior of Dutch-side drivers that stop in the middle of traffic for pick up or drop off.
Once bus drivers have the relevant documentation, the rules will be applied and bus drivers will have to reckon with stepped up controls on both sides of the island.
Requirements for permission to drive a bus or a taxi are a written permit request or an application form, a copy of passport and driver’s license, a census registration form. An original letter from a general practitioner stating that the applicant is in good health.
On February 18, the ministry issued a moratorium on bus and taxi licenses.
Prior to 2012, 211 bus and 321 taxi licenses have been issued. In 2012, 14 new bus and 69 new taxi licenses were added. In 2013 these numbers were 38 and 87 respectively. Before the moratorium was established in 2014, 3 more taxi licenses were issued.