The private sector’s role in the provision of public transportation services is growing, as the state-run Transport Board faces mounting pressure to service commuters.
In fact, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley reported to the House of Assembly today that operators of private coaches were already involved in arrangements with some schools to move their students, while at the Parkinson Secondary School arrangements have been made with an
operator of minibuses to transport its students under highly regulated conditions, such as no music.
“There are individuals who are involved in [school] shuttle services. There were about ten so far and it is growing,” Lashley revealed as he led off debate on a $5 million supplemental to help finance the Transport Board.
During the sitting of the House, which was boycotted by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, Lashley, also defended the Transport Board’s controversial hiring of a high-priced Trinidadian to help it repair scores of disabled units.
He said the consultant’s restoration of several buses through the use of “reconditioned transmissions” would have saved the Transport Board significant sums of money.
Saying the same consultant was approached by a Barbados Labour Party administration in 1998 to work with the state entity, Lashley hit back at critics of the consultant’s hiring.
According to the Minister, the consultant was successful in repairing and rebuilding the transmissions of long abandoned Transport Board buses.
“The Transport Board received a detailed analysis of buses purchased between 2004 and 2006. . . . It suggested that from the inception, the transmissions were problematic.
“On a daily basis approximately 70 buses are off the road for repairs with 20 per cent of these repairs being major defects.
“These include engine repairs, overhauls, transmission replacements . . . and most of the engine repairs were due to overheating. . . . These were the problems, major problems that even the mechanics at the Transport Board are still now trying to grapple with. I am not casting aspersions on any provider or mechanic but that is the stark reality.”
The Minister also addressed the new River Terminal facilities in The City, Lashley said operators worked in a terminal that had no drainage while vendors had no running water and this situation represented an unacceptable state of affairs.
“This went along for a long period of time. Once we upgrade that terminal . . . with proper lighting and security commuters will feel safe going over there,” he added.