Getting Around

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Getting Around Trinidad and Tobago

Inter-Island Transport

There are two options for travel between Trinidad and Tobago - by ferry and by air.

Travelling by air will cost TT$300 (US$50) round trip or TT$150 one way per person. There are twelve flights per day. Flight time is approximately 25 minutes each way. Caribbean Airlines runs the service.

There are two types of ferry service - fast and conventional.

Travelling by fast ferry costs TT$50 one way and TT$100 return. Vessels are the T&T Express and The T&T Spirit, which are both owned by the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. The journey is approximately 2.75 hours. The Express is the faster of the two ships, but the Spirit is newer and has better facilities.

Travelling by conventional ferry costs TT$37.50 one way and TT$75 return, but the journey is approximately 5.5 hours. Vessels are the MF Panorama and Warrior Spirit.

Vehicles can be taken aboard the ferry, but this incurs a different charge which varies by size and weight. A return trip for a private car costs TT$350. This includes the cost of the driver. You are unlikely to be able to take a rental car on the ferry since you need to show vehicle registration documents.

From 1 November 2009, only tickets for same day travel can be purchased at the ferry terminals in Port of Spain and Scarborough. For advance tickets, you must purchase tickets from some select travel agencies - at peak times tickets sell out quickly, particularly for vehicles. For ferry schedules and travel agencies, see the Port Authority website.

Within the Islands

By Taxi

Taxicabs are simply normal passenger cars with no special markings. However, their license plates start with the letter "H". They are found at Taxi stands which may be at a street corner or at the side of the road. Taxi stands in the cities and boroughs are usually marked, but outside of the city they are not. However, one can hail a taxi from the side of the road and ask where they are going and the fare before hiring the taxi. One pays for an individual seat and the taxicabs are shared, but a whole car can be hired if so desired, and if there are not a lot of passengers waiting. Airport taxis are an exception to this in that one almost always has to hire the whole car.

There are larger taxis, called "Maxi Taxis" or simply "Maxis" that go along a specified route. These are similar to mini buses and are painted white or beige and have a colored band around them. Each maxi usually holds approximately 11 or 25 passengers. The colour of the band indicates the area in which they travel. They have their own taxi stands and terminals. In Port of Spain, the maxis depart and arrive at the City Gate terminal, and in San Fernando they depart and arrive at the bus terminal at King's Wharf. These Maxi Taxis travel to the east, south and central areas of the island. In order to travel to the west there are a few designated areas such as the Diego martin/Petit Valley/Carenage/Chagaramas maxi stand located a few kilometers away from City Gate. If so desired, a maxi taxi can be hired for a whole day on a chartered trip. These can be negotiated directly with the maxi taxi drivers in advance. Prices vary.

Gypsy cabs are available as well. Locally they are called "PH" because they are private cars illegally used for hire. Use caution as "PH" drivers have been linked to crime including murder, kidnapping and robbery and carry no insurance for hired passengers.

Some tips

  • All taxi fares are to be paid in cash in TT dollars. Some drivers accept US dollars, Canadian dollars or Euros, but they may not give you a favorable exchange rate. It's okay to ask your fare in advance. In Maxi taxis, pay the conductor, or the driver if there is no conductor. Tipping is not expected except for airport taxis. However, if you feel generous, you can give a tip if you desire. Taxi drivers usually do not provide receipts.
  • If going off the usual designated route (usually the main road), tell the taxi driver before you board the taxi. Some may not want to go off the main road due to crime or bad roads. If you fail to notify them in advance, they may just drop you off at a close point to your destination and you'll have to walk. Maxi taxis will usually not go off the designated route, however, some of them will ask passengers if an alternate route can be taken if there is excessive traffic. If in doubt as to whether the maxi will miss your destination, ask the conductor.
  • Avoid looking for a taxi or maxi during rush hour (AM and PM, but PM is worse). The taxi stands tend to be crowded, and others may resort to stopping the taxi before the taxi stand. The net result is that the taxi is full before it reaches the stand and the wait may be exceedingly long.
  • Some maxi and taxi drivers will want to put more than the legal number of passengers in the vehicle. This is a dangerous and illegal practice, as there is no insurance coverage for any of the passengers if the maxi taxi is overloaded and gets into an accident. Politely decline or at least know what you're risking.
  • If your taxi or maxi is involved in a crash, make a report to the police as soon as possible in order to secure your legal rights. Taxi drivers are required to carry insurance for all passengers. Police reports can be made in person to the police station that has jurisdiction. Ask a local. They will know. If you or someone requires immediate medical attention, dial 999 or 990.
  • Some taxi stands will fill up the taxis from the back going forward. This is more common in the cities and boroughs.
  • To stop a maxi taxi while on it (i.e. at your destination) push the stop button. They will sometimes not be labeled, but by law maxi taxis are required to have them.
  • Smoking in public buildings is against the law.

By Bus

Buses are run by the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Buses and bus tickets are available at City Gate in Port-of-Spain, King's Wharf in San Fernando and various other terminals and bus stops. A ticket is required to board the bus. Bus drivers do not accept cash or credit cards.

By Ferry

There is now a domestic ferry operating on the island of Trinidad between the two main cities of Port-of-Spain in the north and San Fernando in the south. The ferry ride is approximately 45 minutes between destinations and a one-way trip costs TT$15 (approximately US$2.50).

By Car

Car rental is widely available, and driving is on the left side (British style). There are several companies that rent cars including international chains such as Budget and Hertz. There are also local companies such as Auto Rentals, Kalloo's and many others. It is best to reserve a car in advance. However, one can rent a car at the airport upon arrival. The license plates of rental cars are usually designated with an "R" (meaning "Rental") as the first letter. Some private individuals will rent cars with plates designated with the letter "P" (meaning "Private"), but this is an illegal practice and it is better to rent a car with an "R" plate. However, it is becoming common practice for criminals to target drivers of rental cars since many locals seem to believe all foreigners are rich. So more and more car rental firms are now outfitting their cars with "P" in hopes that it would disguise the fact that the car is actually a rental.

Road conditions and traffic

Beware of drivers who do not follow the laws of the road. They may not stop at red lights, and make unannounced turns whenever, wherever! If you're only accustomed to right-side driving (US/ Canada/ Cont. Europe) strongly consider not driving at all. Basically, it is driving based on common sense. Drive to stay alive. If you foresee the possibility of unpleasantness, especially one that can turn into a road rage incident, avoid it.

Speed limits are in effect (80 km/h on highways), but rarely enforced. In fact, the police use timers, not radar, to catch speeders. It is a fun experience, if you can drive well, to enjoy the roads especially late at night or early morning. Avoid speeding on the main highways in rush hour or around the Queen's Park Savannah at any time. Other than that, chances that you will be pulled over are next to nil.

Although you will see many drivers doing it, it is against the law to make a left turn on Red (equivalent to a right turn on red in Left Hand Drive countries such as the United States). U-Turns are also illegal.

Taxis and Maxi Taxis in particular have been linked to a lot of crashes and traffic deaths. They will often stop without warning to pick up or drop off passengers, make risky maneuvers and generally drive recklessly. While these may illegal, the police don't seem to bother them except for occasional spot checks and road blocks. Police action involving Maxi Taxis and Taxis usually happens when they cause serious traffic problems, in which case, it is not uncommon for the Police and the town or city to relocate the Maxi Taxis.

People will also park their vehicles in the middle of the road where there is no shoulder. Wait until the opposite lane clears, then go around the parked car.

In more populated areas, such as the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando, watch out for pedestrians, as jaywalking is the norm. Pedestrian crossing traffic signals are few and far between. Additionally, they require people to push the button in most cases. Most people don't bother and just wait for traffic to clear, or run across the road. Be cautious as hitting a pedestrian, jaywalking or not, can land you in more trouble than hitting a car.

Driving without insurance or with crooked insurers is fairly common. Sadly, it is not enforced as it is in the US or Europe. Use caution and try to avoid an accident as the other person may not have insurance, or their insurance may not be willing to settle with you.

Many road signs are old and not highly visible. Distances are marked in kilometres. Some rural areas off the main highways may have homes whose ground floors are paved with cow dung and dirt, called "leepay." However, this trend is fast disappearing as Trinidad on a whole becomes more wealthy.

Time and Distance

If planning to go to the other side of the island (Trinidad), get an early start and allow the entire day with nothing important scheduled for the late afternoon. Although the island is not huge, getting somewhere can take longer than you might think. With the influx of used cars from Asia (locally called "foreign used") cars and the growing economy, more people own cars than ever. Therefore traffic jams are not uncommon, especially when going to Port of Spain.

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