November 26, 2011

SHARED RIDE: Haiti's 'Tap Tap' Buses

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - The 'Tap Tap' buses of the Caribbean nation of Haiti are brightly painted buses or pick-up trucks that operate as a shared ride service. Tap Tap means literally 'quick, quick'. At main pick-up points, drivers will wait until the bus is filled to capacity before leaving. They follow fixed routes where passengers can disembark at any point of the trip. The vehicles are privately owned, and the industry operates largely unregulated. Many foreign governments warn their citizens visiting Haiti to avoid using Tap Taps because they are considered to be mechanically unsound, overloaded, and unsafely operated; but in a poor country where only 3% of the population owns a motor vehicle and is inadequately served by other public transportation, Tap Taps are a popular mode of travel for Haitians. The vibrant artistry on the Tap Tap buses is part advertising, part display of the owner's life and values, as well as the artist's own self expression. Even though the paint job is a relatively expensive investment that might be replaced in a few months, passengers often choose Tap Taps with the freshest and best artistry; assuming that an attractive bus will also be a well maintained and reliable one.

VIDEO #1: Haiti's 'Tap Tap' Bus Art Flourishes After Quake (PBS)

VIDEO #2: Colourful Bus Rides in Haiti (AlJazeera-English)

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