I’ve been talking about riding in tap taps lately, but I realize this might be an abstract concept for those who have never been to Haiti. Allow me to illustrate:
A tap tap is the primary mode of public transportation in Haiti. They are essentially pick-up trucks that have been made safe (ish) for transporting passengers in the back by installing an open-backed top and benches along each side. It costs about 5 gourdes (approximately 12 cents) to ride about a half a mile. Sometimes you can just jump in one that passes by if you wave the driver down and there’s room. Other times There are locations throughout Haiti where you can catch the tap taps en masse.
They are not very comfortable, but they get you where you need to go! When you get in and sit down, the driver will accelerate, and then slam on the breaks to pack everyone in towards the cab. They will also tend to depart before everyone is seated. The first time I rode one, a 65 year old woman was in the process of boarding when the tap tap lurched forward. Everyone riding, myself included, reached out to grab her so she wouldn’t tumble out the back. Last night we had to ride tap taps back from the beach because our truck broke down, and a dude literally fell off the back of one because it was too crowded. If the seats are at capacity, people will jump on and just hold onto the top of it.
Nearing the end of the trip, the driver will come to the back with a basket and collect the money from all the passengers.
“What’s to stop people from just jumping out and running when they get there?” I asked my traveling buddy Alain yesterday.
“Getting their asses kicked.”
That’s the Haitian transportation system. Somebody would make a killing starting a cab business here.
For more on tap taps, check out this post by Alain Armand: Economics of Tap Tap driver.