Passengers left standing at stops on Monday were left to make alternative arrangements and are questioning whether public transport can be relied upon, despite official efforts to encourage eople away from their cars.
Ēriks Zeps, a musician, was among those struggling to get aboard the morning bus to Rīga, departing on this route trip from Rēzekne at 7.55 in the morning. The next bus departing on the four-hour trip does no depart until midday.
“I got on board at the next stop to Rēzekne, which is behind the bus station, and there was already a sign saying 'No seats', and the driver said there were only two seats available, while there were five of us at the stop. We pleaded to be taken along, on the condition that some people would get out in Vilani,” said Zeps, who said at the Vilani stop students and a man with a hospital appointment were left behind.
Sanita Drēviņa, Director of Regional Intercity Routes at Ecolines Ltd., explaining the situation, said this was an exceptional circumstance.
“The Rezekne-Riga route is busy, but this is the first time we have a situation where everyone cannot leave on Monday. Usually we have this on Fridays when we are planning an extra bus. On Fridays, we continue to use two buses in August and now also in September, given that passenger traffic on Fridays is higher than on other days of the week,” said Drēviņa.
There were fifty-two seats with no parking for the trip in question, but due to safety rules, even if people were willing to stand on their feet, the driver couldn't allow it.
“There are times that it happens. Recently, not all passengers were picked up on the Talsi-Riga and Riga-Ainaži routes as there was simply no seat available and additional services were opened... where the number of passengers is increasing, then we react accordingly," said Zane Plone, spokeswoman for the Transportation Directorate.
"It is up to the carriers to keep up with the passenger flow, and if the bus is overcrowded on a regular basis, the carrier has to provide a bus with a larger capacity or arrange an additional bus. But the situation of passengers being left and not picked up is unacceptable,” she admitted.
Ēriks Zeps said that the uncertainty is increased because at present it is not possible to pre-purchase a ticket for this particular route.
“It makes me question whether public transport, the intercity bus, can be relied on. And another problem is that I would be happy to buy a ticket online so I know for sure that I will have a seat, but the road carrier to Rezekne, Ecolines, does not offer that opportunity,” Zeps said.