The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) spokesman on transportation is demanding a “credible and functional” plan from Government to increase the number of buses on the roads and bring relief to the travelling public.
Former Chairman of the Transport Board Ian Gooding-Edghill complained in a recent statement that the state-run bus system had become a “national disgrace and embarrassment” and the Freundel Stuart administration did not appear to have a plan to remedy the situation.
The BLP St Michael West Central candidate charged the current administration was mismanaging the transport agency, spending over $108 million on maintenance with little to show for it.
“Clearly the Board has abandoned the fleet replacement policy put in place by the BLP. The investment would have reversed the steep decline in passengers from 23.5 million in the 2010/11 financial year to 17.4 million for 2015/16, a loss of some 6.1 million passengers and also badly needed revenue,” he argued.
“I am calling on the Transport Minister to, even at this late stage, demonstrate urgency and initiative showing that he is finally aware of, and sensitive to, the plight of bus travellers, and most of all that he has a credible and functional plan to shortly bring them lasting relief, through a reliable bus service based on an adequate supply of working buses. The long-suffering travelling public deserves nothing less.”
The Opposition politician, who lost the seat by 193 votes to James Paul of the governing Democratic Labour Party in 2013, said the shortage of buses, compounded by financial problems, had been going on for much too long and Barbadians were the ones suffering as a result.
He contended that not since the early 1990s had the Transport Board been in such a “deplorable” position.
“The harsh reality that the travelling public who heavily depend on Transport Board buses to go about their daily business still have to endure a disgracefully low supply of buses, making it punishingly difficult and even impossible for them to get to school, work and social activities on time or at all. And on their way back home the story is the same: agony and frustration from long waits at bus stops and in bus terminals.
“This deplorable situation has not only been going on for far too long, but shows no sign of getting better any time soon. The Board’s daily supply of buses on the road is at its lowest and worst in nearly 23 years, since the Board has not been able to buy any new buses since 2006. Also, repair and maintenance of its old fleet of buses has been nothing short of a national disgrace and embarrassment, despite having recruited allegedly specialist, high-price foreign personnel to turn things around,” he added.