A major overhaul is coming of the operations of the loss making Transport Board.
However, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said Barbadians need not fear any increase in bus fares at this stage.
He also ruled out full privatization of the loss-making state entity but said as part of a plan to bring about a greater level of efficiency at the Board, there was likely to be more private sector involvement in the delivery of the island’s transportation services.
“What we are looking at now are more strategic ways to assist them and they [officials of the Transport Board] have submitted a proposal that does not include retrenching any more staff, but looks at specific areas of high cost intervention by them to modulate the amount of expenditure they need,” Sinckler revealed.
He said Government was currently looking favourably at the plan, which would involve re-fleeting and expansion of the Board’s aging buses, which have been dogged in recent months by breakdowns and other technical problems.
The Minister of Finance said the broad-based proposals also look at issues such as reducing maintenance costs and better utilization of fuel.
“These are the things that they have submitted,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that the final proposal was due to go before Cabinet soon for final approval.
However, Sinckler said based on the discussions he has been involved in, he was satisfied that the Board was moving in the right direction.
The plan also calls for increased synergies with private PSV operators. Sinckler said as part of a process of rationalizing routes, officials would be looking to see what lessons could be learnt from the Transport Authority Service Integration pilot project, which was launched last year on a few routes. Sinckler however suggested that there might be need for more incentives to encourage the private operators greater participation by, “thereby reducing Transport Board’s need to have to be everywhere, every time all on its own and at very high costs”.
He stressed that the focus was on private structural change that would result in cost savings, adding that a serious look was being taken at all the operations of statutory corporations and over time Government will be rolling out its full programme for statutory entities.