Cuban ‘Camel’ Buses Put Out to Pasture

May 2, 2008

HAVANA – The urban landscape of Havana will no longer include “camels,” the two-humped converted tractor-trailers with capacity for 285 passengers that were introduced in 1994 as Cuba struggled to adjust to the loss of economic subsidies from the former Soviet Union.

The famous buses were retired from the streets of Havana this week, according to the government.

“We can say ‘so long’ to the ‘camels,’ which are not going to a museum but will provide service, once they are repaired, in other provinces,” state-run weekly Trabajadores said upon announcing that the fleet of vehicles had made their last trip in the Cuban capital.

The departure from circulation of the camels in Havana is part of a transportation recovery program, one of the most pressing problems for Cubans, on which authorities are working with investments that imply the incorporation of hundreds of new buses to the system.

Havana transit authorities began replacing the approximately 80 camels at the end of 2006 with Chinese-made buses.

The “gradual replacement plan” for the camels replaces those vehicles with others with less capacity but which are more modern and comfortable.

The Cuban government has signed contracts worth about $2 billion to run over the next five years and include investments in the automotive and rail sectors in both passenger and cargo vehicles.

The authorities expect to have a total of 8,000 new buses working to cover local, provincial and inter-provincial routes.

 

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