Minister of Transport Michael Lashley has signalled that changes are to be made to the Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) pilot project, including the installation of GPS monitors in privately operated public service vehicles (PSVs).
This follows the launch last December of the six-month programme on the Sturges, Edey Village and Martins Bay routes.
Speaking in the House of Assembly this morning on the Appropriations Bill, 2016, Lashley acknowledged that though the overall aim was to have a more reliable bus service, the project had been dogged by challenges, including rogue behaviour by some private PSV operators who have reportedly been going off route.
He therefore revealed that “in a couple of weeks” Government would include GSP tracking systems on the vehicles to monitor the location of the PSV operators.
Lashley also pointed out that though the Transport Authority was responsible for providing the schedule, it was proving challenging to get all the buses to operate for the required seven days each week.
He said that was because the private operators were reluctant to work during off peak periods on weekends, which they deemed to be unprofitable.
“That is the challenge that we have to now sit down and speak to them,” said Lashley.
He also revealed that Government was looking at ways to make the integration project more attractive for private PSVs, even though he acknowledged that there was still some apprehension by members of the public to travel on the private PSVs, given the “hullabaloo out there about the recklessness. . . of the ZRs and minibuses”.
Nonetheless, he said, the move to bring them into the Transport Board environment at the Fairchild Street bus terminal, had positively affected the attitude of pensioners, “who would be at a bus stop or refuse to drive on one of those vehicles”.
In her contribution to the debate, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) for St Thomas Cynthia Forde said while she supported the integrated system, the TASI pilot project was flawed.
She complained that on the Sturges route, some of the PSVs were “road unworthy” and “not fit to run on the road”.
“There is absolutely no way Mr Chairman, that buses travelling on the Sturges route will have a flat tire and no spare; in a lonesome road . . . and then dislocation of the passenger. It happened twice in one week with the same bus, and then for the brakes of the bus to let go,” said Forde, who is the representative for the area.
Forde, who called for a re-examination of the Sturges route, also reported that many of the TASI operators were not following the schedule and that this was leaving some people along the route stranded for hours.
Meantime, MP for St George Gline Clarke said while he supported a public/private sector partnership for the provision of transportation, there was need for Government to review its financing of the sector.
“The State cannot continue to provide a hundred per cent financing for the Transport Board or private individuals. The State has to be able to manage its affairs by involving the private sector,” said Clarke. (MM)