Getting around in Trinidad by public transport is an adventure all by itself. On first glimpse, the system appears to be confusing and downright chaotic, and it takes a bit of time to get used to. I studied in Trinidad for a few months, and it took me over two weeks to really get a good understanding of the public transportation network.
I'm hoping that this review will help others who intend to visit the country, so that they can find their way around with greater ease than I did. The first thing that needs to be understood is that the system comprises of three main aspects: The route taxis, the maxi taxis and the PTSC buses.
The Route Taxis:
These are mainly cars or sometimes vans, and most can be distinguished by the letter H on the liscense plate. This type of public transportation are of the 'shared' variety. You would find these vehicles at any taxi stand, but they run regular routes for a nominal fee. For example, at the Trincity taxi stand, you can hop into any of the cars lined up there, and after the vehicle is full of passengers, the driver will take you to Trincity mall for $3 TT, which is the equivalent of $0.50 USD.
In the case of which a taxi is needed to take you somewhere off-route, such as to your hotel or guest house, this will cause a considerable hike in transportation cost. The price may jump from $0.50 to $5 - $10 USD.
Note of caution however, is that some of the vehicles which run on the routes are not licensed for taxi services. These are locals who are trying to earn a few bucks on the side, and I would advise visitors not to hire them.
These 'maxi taxis' are actually white buses with coloured bands. The colour of the band tells you what region of the country you are in, as well as the route that the maxi taxi is running on. Each bus has the names of the places between which it runs on a sign stuck on the windshield, so visitors shouldn't have a problem figuring out which one to board. The Red Band maxi taxi runs on the Priority Bus Route, and is the fastest way to get to the capital of Port of Spain from airport area of the country.
The reason why using maxi taxis get you around faster, is that no other vehicles are allowed on the bus route except for emergency units. This results in absolutely no traffic jams, and the fact that this method is very inexpensive makes it the best choice to get around in Trinidad. A 45 minute drive from the airport area to Port of Spain is only $2 USD.
These belong to the Public Transport Service Corporation, and mostly consists of deluxe coaches. This is the most comfortable way to get from Port of Spain to the further flung destinations such as San Fernando, the other capital city which is located in the south of the nation.
These buses are large, with some seating over 60 persons. They are fully air conditioned with perks such as flat screen tvs and soft seats complete with matching window curtains. The price of this type of public transportation is $10 TT or $1.75 USD.
Some visitors may rent a vehicle to get around in Trinidad, but for the budget traveller, I hope these tips will help to make your trip easier.