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Topics include Dining Scene, U.S. Virgin Islands: For Foreign Visitors & more!
THE VITRAN BUS SYSTEM
The VITRAN Buses are handicap accessible, enclosed, air conditioned, operate on holidays and offer discounts to select groups. Unfortunately, the service is unreliable.
In St Thomas, you may wait for an hour or more for the bus to arrive. The air-conditioned buses travel outward from Charlotte Amalie. A change in Sugar Estate is necessary for points east. Wait for the buses at the stops marked with VITRAN signs. Fares run USD1 for trips to distant locations and USD75 cents for city trips.
In St John, the buses tend to wait for the ferry to arrive in Cruz Bay on the west end, and then travel along the Centerline Road through to Coral Bay on the east end, and then to Salt Pond Bay. From Cruz Bay the bus leaves at 6am, 7am, and then 25 minutes past the hour until 7:25pm. From Salt Pond Bay the bus leaves at 5am, 6am, 7am, 8am and then 10 minutes after the hour until 8:10pm. The fare is $1 a person. Senior Citizens receive a discounted fare of $.55. This bus service is not dependable.
THE SAFARI BUS SYSTEM
The "DOLLAR BUS" was born after the island was devastated by hurricane Marilyn. The Dollar Bus man would drive back and forth across the island shouting anywhere for a dollar. He was so sought after and crowded that more safari buses continued to follow in his tracks. This eventually became the public's enterprising way of solving the unsolvable government problem of a dysfunctional public bus system. The Dollar bus allows the local population access to and around the island in an affordable manner.
For visitors, using the dollar bus can be tricky. Remember, the route follows a figure 8 pattern.
Beginning at the West End of the island, at the university of the Virgin Islands on St Thomas, the safari buses travel along the main waterfront highway past Crownbay Cruise Ship Dock, Subbase, Frenchtown and along the waterfront shopping district.
There is a bus stop at the Vendor's Plaza and then the bus will wind along backroads past the High School, The Sugar Estate Post Office and the Hospital then it will pass the Pizza Hut and McDonalds and drive up the Raphune Hill stopping in the Cost U Less Shopping Center and the Caribbean Cinemas Market Place.
From there, the buses drive towards Fort Mylner stopping again in Tutu at the Tutu Park Mall in front of the main entrance to the Big K K-Mart Store. Then, the buses make a loop first driving North through Tutu and then turning east going over the top of Cassi Hill, down through Smith Bay passing the turn off for Coki Beach and Coral World, past the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort, Point Pleasant Resort, Sapphire Beach Resort and finally stopping briefly to pick up more passengers at the Ferry Terminal in Red Hook at the very eastern end of St Thomas opposite the Marina Market Grocery Store.
The buses will continue through Red Hook passing Eudora Kean High School on the right and bearing to the right after passing the Dominican Fruit Stands and then traveling up Route 32 passing the National Guard Armory on the right.
At the top of that hill is the east end of the island's only stop light at an intersection, dangerous because it peaks at a blind spot coming from both directions.
Thru the light and driving down the hill, the taxis pass the Domino's gas station and the Food Center on the right winding for about a mile with marinas on the left.
Virgin Islands Ecotours marina is the final stop before leaving the Mangrove Lagoon area and then entering an industrial area of a road with concrete and rock quarries.
At the next intersection with a four way stop light, the safari buses turns right and returns to the K-mart at the Tutu Park Mall.
Any passenger originating from the ferry dock, Red hook, the marinas or Virgin Islands Ecotours, and wanting to return to Wyndham Sugar Bay, Point Pleasant or Sapphire Beach on the North East Road must disembark at the K-Mart and pay the taxi the $1 and then wait for another safari bus that is returning east to "the country" (towards Red Hook).
Otherwise, riders remain on the taxi and continue on towards Havensite turning right at the Wendy's and then driving into and thru Charlotte Amalie, then passing Frenchtown, Crown Bay, the Airport and continuing onward towards the University of the Virgin Islands.
At any point along this route, the passengers need only flag their hand to the driver of a safari bus and the bus will stop long enough to get on and then will continue on this figure 8 route. When the passenger wishes to depart the bus, a door bell should be reachable that will alert the driver to stop. If one cannot find the door bell, it is customary to pound your foot on the floor of the bus a few times so that they know to stop. Immediately upon stopping, go straight to the window of the driver to pay him the dollar bill. Inflation has hit, so if you cross over the K-Mart area in Tutu, one is expected to pay $2, but if only the one loop is traversed, then only a single dollar needs to be paid.
If you plan on walking or biking around, you should plan on losing a lot of weight, because many things are spread out on the island, and it is very hilly. You may also find the roads and hills are very steep and going up is almost physically impossible, especially on a bicycle. The second and more important caveat is that most of these winding narrow roads do not have sidewalks. You may start off on a sidewalk and find yourself walking in a gut (a dry river bed). It is very easy to sprain an ankle, never mind being hit by an oncoming car that is not visible until the last moment.
A map of the route is available here. St Thomas USVI Safari Bus Route Map
There are numerous Taxi Associations. East End Taxi Service (340) 775-6974, Kelly's Taxi at The Ritz Carlton Hotel (340) 774-0428, Independent Taxi Association (340) 774-0394, Allie's Taxi Stand Veteran's Drive (340) 777-8007. There is a taxi stand at the Red hook Ferry Dock, The Tortola Wharf, Havensite Entrance, Crown Bay Cruise Ship Dock, and the Airport. There may also be charges for luggage. Fares in official taxis (with the word "taxi" on their license plates) are regulated, so if in doubt about your quoted cost, you can ask the driver to see the fare schedule.
Anchorage to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $15.00 2+/each $10.00
Anchorage to Airport $18.00 /12.00
Blackbeard's Castle to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $5.00 2+/each $4.00 Blackbeard's Castle to Airport $8.00 /7.00
Bluebeard's Castle to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $5.00 2+/each $4.00 Bluebeard's Castle to Airport $8.00 /7.00
Bolongo Bay to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $10.00 2+/each $8.00
Bolongo Bay to Airport $12.00 /9.00
Carib Beach Resort to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $7.00 2+/each $6.00 Carib Beach Resort to Airport $4.00 /4.00
Compass Point to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $12.00 2+/each $9.00 Compass Point to Airport $14.00 /10.00
Cowpet Bay to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $15.00 2+/each $10.00
Cowpet Bay to Airport $18.00 /12.00
Elysian Resort to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $15.00 2+/each $10.00
Elysian Resort to Airport $18.00/12.00
Emerald Beach Resort to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $7.00 2+/each $6.00
Emerald Beach Resort to Airport $4.00 /4.00
Frenchman's Reef to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $8.00 2+/each $6.00
Frenchman's Reef to Airport $10.00 /8.00
Holiday Inn to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $4.00 2+/each $4.00
Holiday Inn to Airport $7.00 /6.00
Hotel 1829 to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $4.00 2+/each $4.00
Hotel 1829 to Airport $7.00 /6.00
Islander Beachcomber to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $7.00 2+/each $6.00 Islander Beachcomber to Airport $4.00 /4.00
Mafolie Hotel to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $8.00 2+/each $6.00
Mafolie Hotel to Airport $10.00 /8.00
Magen's Point Hotel to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $10.00 2+/each $7.00 Magen's Point Hotel to Airport $12.00 /9.00
Pavillions and Pools to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $13.00 2+/each $10.00 Pavillions and Pools to Airport $15.00 /11.00
Point Pleasant to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $13.00 2+/each $10.00
Point Pleasant to Airport $15.00 /11.00
Ritz Carlton Resort & Club to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $15.00 2+/each $10.00
Ritz Carlton Resort & Club to Airport $18.00/12.00
Sapphire Beach Resort to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $13.00 2+/each $10.00
Sapphire Beach Resort to Airport $15.00 /11.00
Secret Harbor Resort to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $15.00 2+/each $10.00
Secret Harbor Resort to Airport $18.00 /12.00
Wyndham Sugar Bay to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $13.00 2+/each $10.00
Wyndham Sugar Bay to Airport $15.00 /11.00
Yacht Haven - Havensight to Charlotte Amalie 1 person $4.00 2+/each $4.00
Yacht Haven - Havensight to Airport $7.00 /6.00
Special Provisions for Taxi Operators
The charges to areas not listed in the above schedule shall be arrived at by using the nearest tariffed place crossed to the next tariffed place ahead, based on one nearest to the passenger's destination.
Taxi operators with On-duty sign on shall not refuse a passenger, unless the passenger is intoxicated and disorderly or in possession of a pet or animal (other than a seeing eye dog) that is not properly secured in a kennel case or other suitable container. There shall be no extra charge for seeing-eye dogs.
Kennel Charges: Large Kennel - $30, Small Kennel - $20.
Round trip fares: double the one-way fare plus waiting charges.
Waiting charges: $1.00 per minute. First five minutes free.
Radio/Phone Call: One person, the fare plus one third of the basic fare. More than one person; add $1.00 to each passenger.
Between midnight and 6:00am, there shall be an additional charge of $2.00 per person.
Any person requesting a taxi exclusively for themselves are as follows:
Airport to Red Hook: $90 for 1-4 passengers, (5 or more passengers add $15 for each additional person).
Within Town Limits: $55 for 1-4 passengers, (5 or more passengers add $7 for each additional person).
Airport to Frenchman's Reef, Limetree or Bolongo: $65 for 1-4 passengers, (5 or more passengers will pay an additional fare each).
Luggage: A flat rate of $2 per bag shall be added to the fare for each passenger. The rate for items greater than 30"x20" shall not exceed $4 per item.
Hourly Rates (1-4 passengers): Sedan/Mini Van $40; Van/Safari(14 passenger capacity) $55; Safari $80. Rates for additional passengers will be negotiated between the taxi operator and passenger(s).
All passengers must be discharged at their precise requested locations when fare is accepted and agreed to.
Sightseeing Tours: 2 hours - One passenger $50; two or more passengers $25 per person. 3 hours - One passenger $60; two or more passengers $30 per person.
Gypsy taxis hustle business outside of stores. Their taxis do not have a medallion or taxi plates, and they do not have required licenses or insurance. For all practical purposes, they look like a private car with a resident driver. This could be a dangerous choice.
The most obvious mode of transportation for visitors to the island is rental car. If you are flying in you can rent from the airport from agencies . Hertz charges $65.00 for a Corolla and $75.00 for a Camry, all included excluding gas. Budget rates start at $55.00. Thrifty is a great rental company just outside the airport. Always drive on the left hand side and take extra care, use your horn frequently if you are in doubt. Seatbelt laws are strongly enforced here.
In reality, a rental is probably the best for traveling around the island if you are staying for a few days, but there are other options as well. While it is an island, and relatively isn't as large as some other places, there is still a good amount of ground to cover.