Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Different kind of Bus System

A Different Kind of Bus System

When I was in San Francisco a couple years ago we waited a ½ hour to get on
a bus, only to have the driver pull over after a mile, order everyone off
the bus, and he took his lunch break!

In Grand Cayman not only will the buses pick you up and drop you off
anywhere along their route - they actually chase you down if you're walking
and beep their horn and ask if you want to ride!

Curious at why these drivers are so solicitous I asked one how the system
works. He said he owns the 15 seat van and pays all of his maintenance,
insurance and gas. And pays the government $285 a year for his route, which
includes his medical exam. Fares are $2.50 - $5.00 U.S depending on the
route and 100% goes to the bus owner-with no taxes. So drivers have a profit
motive to keep their buses full of paying customers. I saw a driver let off
a rider at the Texaco station with an ATM so she could get her bus fare then
get back on the bus. And another driver sat for a while on the side of the
road, waiting for a lady that took his bus to work every day.

The government provides a parking lot as the "downtown depot" with a shack
and guy to direct people to the right buses. And a sticker with the bus
route number for the vans, which were really clean. It helps if you like the
driver's taste in music. I was glad I brought my MP3 player-which also
helped drown out a passenger singing loudly on the bus.

Government finance in the Caymans is vastly different from Minnesota. No
income tax. No obvious sales tax. Caymanians and Cayman Islands companies
are not subject to any form of direct taxation. However, the Cayman Islands
Government's primary source of income an import duty of 20% levied against
goods imported into the islands plus various licensing fees. The main source
of government revenue are tourist fees and a 10% government tax added to all

For real estate there is a one time 6-7.5% deed tax at purchase.

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