Get it right for locals first!
That’s the response from former chairman of the state-run Transport Board Ian Gooding-Edghill to Government’s plan to offer a chartered bus services to tourists.
During the recent debate on the Appropriation Bill, 2016, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley explained that the service would be offered in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism as a means of generating increased revenue for the state-run Transport Board.
However, Gooding-Edghill told Barbados TODAY the proposal was not only “puzzling and ill-timed”, but also “alarming”.
“He must certainly be aware of the extreme frustrations daily experienced by thousands of Barbadians suffering from the highly unsatisfactory bus service routinely provided all of the nation by the Transport Board,” said Gooding-Edghill.
“His proposal is another glaring example of this Government’s habit of making up policy on the run to try to impress a hopeful public,” he added.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for St Michael West Central also cautioned that should the plan go through, it would only serve to make a bad situation worse, given the “very scarce units from an already badly under-provided bus fleet struggling to service the local travelling public.
“Furthermore, there can be no reasonable need for Government to be wanting to get involved in competing in an area already catered to by well established private sector taxi and coach operators, and from all reports doing to satisfactorily and efficiently,” said Gooding-Edghill.
He suggested that Lashley, through the Transport Board, should be aggressively pursuing “increased bus availability, timely fleet maintenance and the regular payment of suppliers of goods and services”.
“Doing so would put more buses on the road for the benefit of the public fed up with having to routinely tolerate long waits for buses, if they arrive at all, and would guarantee higher revenues for the Board,” he said.
“I am sure that the Transport Minister is quite familiar with reports that the Board is seldom able to put on the road some 152 buses or 51 per cent of the 300 vehicles needed to meet the peak requirements of Barbadian commuters going to school, work and about their various other activities. Seeking to reverse such a deplorable state of affairs should be Minister Lashley’s first and foremost concern,” advised Gooding-Edghill.
The former Transport Board chairman said he was alarmed that Lashley did not use the debate to provide the public with an update on the “long awaited plans to replace an ageing fleet which last received 30 new buses in 2003 and 100 in 1999, and how he intends to deal with phenomenal challenge of delivering reliable and efficient bus service.
“So I am calling on Minister Lashley to immediately abandon his bad case of misplaced priorities shown in what can perhaps best be considered as an over-ambitious and impractical wish for the Transport Board to venture into tourist charters,” said Gooding-Edghill. (MM)