Chairman of the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael is charging that some transport partnership arrangements between the public and private sectors are being prematurely unveiled, having failed to flesh out the details with all parties involved.
Making specific reference to the Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) project, Raphael told Barbados TODAY there were several kinks which needed to be ironed out if the project were to be successful.
“We were allowed to have a meeting with the Ministry [of Transport and Works] from day one about the TASI project. However, since then there has been no meeting to brief us on the whole aspect of the project itself,” Raphael said.
He said operators in the TASI programme have complained of being placed too low in the pecking order as they were only allowed to collect passengers after the Transport Board buses were full.
“My understanding from some of the workers on the particular TASI project was that they were only allowed to travel after the [Transport Board] buses,” he said.
The AOPT chairman argued that this was tantamount to forcing private operators to forage for scraps in an environment of scarce resources.
“They would have selected routes like Edey Village, which may not be called high traffic routes and may not be correct routes because the only competition the minibuses use to have was the same Transport Board bus,” Raphael contended.
Designed primarily to reduce the inconveniences associated with the Transport Board bus schedules, TASI was introduced in December 2015 as an experimental programme combining the services of the Barbados Transport Board and private operators of public service vehicles (PSVs) on some routes, beginning with Edey Village, Christ Church, with Sturges added later.
Earlier this month, minibus owners Victor Mottley and David Douglin publicly ventilated their concern over the decision by the Ministry of Transport Works (MTW) to pull private operators from the Sturges route to make way for the TASI project.
Mottley had told Barbados TODAY that TASI was crippling his business and that of other owners and operators, and was nothing but a means of enriching a few at the expense of the majority.
The main point of contention for Mottley was that, having been made to move against their will, operators were being assigned to highly saturated routes.
He explained at the time that since the start of the TASI programme, 11 minibuses had been pulled from the Sturges route and replaced by only the three selected for the project.
This was a concern shared by Raphael, who confirmed that operators displaced by the TASI project were being assigned routes on which they did not want to work.
“When person are taken from the Sturges route it could be at a disadvantage to them because some of them were placed on routes that they did not agree to. They were just placed there and they were told that they were just going to be placed there for just a short time but they have remained there indefinitely,” Raphael lamented.
However, the transport executive felt the TASI project “was a good programme which only needed more consultation among stakeholders”.