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FAJARDO -- A comprehensive maritime transportation plan has become effective for Spring Break Week in order to handle the high number of passengers that travel to the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra.

The announcement was made last week during a hearing at the Senate held at the Maritime Transport Authority in said municipality, where senator Lornna Soto, the Department of Transportation and Public Works secretary Rubén Hernández Gregorat and state and municipal officials were present.

The terminal had recently been refurbished, painted and with new trash bins, plus five ferryboats docked there.

The plan would become effective from April 2 to 8, including traffic control at the boat terminal in Fajardo and a higher number of passenger and cargo trips, scheduled to kick off each day from 3:00 a.m. on.

The ticket office would operate uninterruptedly in a special schedule from 2:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Likewise, the state and municipal police -- including staff from the drug, stolen cars and K-9 units -- would be working around the clock at the Fajardo, Vieques and Culebra boat terminals.

The authorities are also considering implementing a bus shuttle service with vehicles from the Metropolitan Bus Authority.

When asked why are these efforts implemented only when it’s high tourist season and never when residents (from Vieques and Culebra) demand it, Soto and Hernández Gregorat ruled out the premise and said the efforts to improve the service have always been carried out and would continue to be in the agenda; they said it (an uninterrupted, stable transportation service) would be “ideal and the goal that we're after,” but in this case, the high number of visitors justifies it.

Soto stressed that “residents travel on the express ferryboat. They get priority seating and get a VIP treatment and that is 100 percent guaranteed. They’ve always been the priority.”

But for Vieques resident Eva Encarnación “no one can fix this, not even the Pope if he were to come from Cuba. Not even privatization, because prices go up for residents and tourists alike. Today, there is a ferryboat for passengers, but that is because they (government officials) are all here. All they’ve done these days is use the ferryboat for all the routes. This is simply a show to win more votes.”

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