Transport Minister Michael Lashley today announced plans for the upgrade of operations at the Transport Board, including the local manufacture of buses.
Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley, made the disclosure today while addressing a church service at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church to mark the 60th anniversary of the Transport Board.
The state-owned institution will no longer be importing buses, but instead will only purchase chassis from abroad while government will award contracts to local manufacturers to construct the bodies of the vehicles.
Lashley recalled that management entered into an agreement 32 years ago with local bus manufacturer, Acme Manufacturing Co., to construct buses.
“It is only fitting that in its 60th year of existence the board returns to the initiative of buying locally built buses,” the St Philip North MP said.
“This is not new. This happened some 32 years ago when the Transport Board engaged the services of a factory called Acme Manufacturing Co., under the leadership of Frank Butcher and they built bus bodies utilizing the Leyland and Mercedes chassis.”
Lashley noted that the cost of local production will be lower than importing a vehicle, and will also provide employment for several categories of workers.
“The other advantage of the new arrangement is that it will increase the level of employment using local mechanics, local electricians and some other skill sets that are local in terms of building those buses.
“Since a bus is just a chassis and once we can import those chassis into Barbados and then utilise one or two or three companies that have built a reputation in transportation then certainly we believe that this is the way forward in terms of rebuilding and rebranding the Transport Board,” Lashley added.
The Transport Minister told the congregation that over the years the Transport Board has trained its staff, introduced new routes and now was in the process of introducing new technology.
Lashley further disclosed that smart cards will soon be introduced in an attempt to eliminate the use of coins to board buses.
“This will provide the Board with a more accurate record of their finances and of their input to the Transport Board in terms of revenue. I should be able to go to a bus with a card knowing full well that a particular bus should be coming to that particular location at a particular time.
“I believe that the Transport Board should also introduce GPS tracking that we would be able to track our buses whether that bus is in St Lucy or St Philip. I do not want to cast any aspersions on our workers but we want to know where our buses are at any particular time,” Lashley said.
He reiterated his suggestion that there must be a mix between the private transport sector and the public transport sector.
Lashley told the congregation, which included Transport Board Chairman, Anthony Wiltshire, General Manager Sandra Forde and other members of the management team, that the board was in the process of developing more routes, and pointed out that the Bayfield to Warrens route has proven to be very successful in terms of revenue intake.
The Transport Minister also disclosed that following a five-hour meeting with the private transport sector on Friday, his ministry turned down their application for an increase in bus fares. (NC)