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The wonders of Island transportation

Despite what literature you may read, St. Helena DOES have a regularly scheduled air service, at roughly 3pm every Sunday. Obviously, however, with no airport on the Island, South African airways flight 223 from Sao Paolo to Johannesburg passes several thousands of feet over the island and is thus of no real use to islanders except as a weekly source of a strange sound which until you have worked out (or been told) what it is, serves to confuse you.

None of this incomprehensible 7digit number plate rubbish here. Just nice simple numbers!

I have no idea if Henry Ford's descendants have ever heard of St. Helena, but to my mind they could do much worse than advertise St. Helena as an ad-hoc ford museum. There are a surprising number of cars on St. Helena, the majority imported from the UK with some from South Africa. Whilst there is a surprisingly large variety of makes and models, by far the largest proportion are Fords, and all known hire cars, seem to be Ford as well. Being so isolated, logically it does make sense for certain makes/models to proliferate, as it means that spare parts can be kept in stock and the garages know how to maintain them. A one off may be fine, but if it requires a special part you can then be left with a wait of 2months+ before it arrives. And due to the high import charges, vehicles often last for many years, and so it is not unusual to see fairly old cars wandering around and this has led to things like Mark I cortina's and other such classics still in good condition and regular usage. At the very least, ford could produce a 'through the ages' advert here.


Henry Ford would be proud of the dedication of Islanders to his company

There are a surprising number of roads around the Island, most of which are tarred/sealed and i reasonably good condition. Indeed, whilst potholes do exists, I haven't seen any which compare those that you can find reasonably easy in the average Europe town or countryside. It is also not uncommon to come across workmen cutting away the vegetation on the verges or filling small gaps or clearing loose rocks away. Having said that, roads are not always all that big, and even some of the main roads can look like small tracks

Above: Yes, this really is a main road, and one of the Islands main arteries.... Below: Another main road winds it's way through the overgrowing flax, and (bottom) the road snaking round beneath The Briars



Road signs and village names, do exist in good supply and are all seem so friendly. Even the names themselves almost all sound welcoming - Levelwood, Half Tree Hollow, Sandy Bay and Alarm Forest, for example - and there are none of the terse or dodgy sounding names that tend to appear elsewhere.




Top, a typical town sign and below, a sad but typical signs for a cyclist: No Cycling. Especially with all that downhill to go... (note the traditional National Trust style 'pointing' road sign as well)


Transport on the island is pretty much cars alone. As previously sadly noted, bikes are forbidden on many of the Islands roads (especially downhill sections), in general for their own safety a much a anything else. However there is a limited bus service, despite the fact that there is no commuting traffic: The major island and town employers, Thorpe and Soloman and Son (who between them are involved with or own virtually every enterprise on the Island), as well as the Government lay on free employee minibuses to and from work. Buses are at best infrequent on almost all routes, and are generally aimed at helping those out in the country get into town for half a day or so. Besides, everybody knows the drivers and can just call ahead to let them know they are coming...

Bus stops even exist in certain places, though they function as refuges and resting stops as much as bus stops

Apart from that, at this stage at least, public transport means the RMS St. Helena, the Island's lifeline. When she arrives, there is excitement, but when she leaves, just sadness and isolation.



The RMS St. Helena arriving in James Bay after a shuttle service to Ascension; Sadly departing again, and (bottom), bye-bye RMS: We are now cut off from the world again for 2weeks

Posted by Gelli 16:08 Archived in St Helena Tagged transportation

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Hey man, great blog... I was curious if you'd like to contribute a story to my site... check it out and let me know..
peace, Grant

(URL removed, as per Travellerspoint rules)

by Grant

So, how do people think about the proposed airport...somewhere in 2012? Shame or not?

by Utrecht

It definitely won't be 2012, that's for sure. And it still isn't a certainty. There is lots of political issues (in the UK) and the whole episode is one big ungodly mess, and is causing lots of problems and ill will from the islanders. There will be a specific blog about it soon.

by Gelli

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