A Transport Board experimental project which combined the services of the state transport agency and private operators of public service vehicles (PSVs) on some routes has come to a screeching halt.
Government announced today through a Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) release that the Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) project, first mooted in 2015 as a six-month pilot to address issues of public transport reliability, had ended.
“Commuters on the Edey Village and Sturges bus routes will now experience a change in service, due to the culmination of the Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) project, which has come to an end after two years,” the release said about the two routes served by the project.
It said the Transport Board would continue to offer service to Edey Village from the Fairchild Street terminal, while two privately run PSVs, ZR270 and ZR271, would operate from the Constitution River terminal.
Five minibuses will provide service to Sturges from the Cheapside terminal, while the Transport Board will continue to offer service to the same community from the Princess Alice terminal, the BGIS release said.
“Vehicles will carry the appropriate signs, each indicating the route plied,” it noted.
With the project coming to a halt, Government would no longer offer the concession fares on the privately-owned PSVs, the release said. Therefore, passengers who travel of these vehicles “will revert to paying the full fare”.
When the project was first introduced it was supposed to bring relief to long-suffering commuters in Sturges, St Thomas; Edey Village, Christ Church; and Martin’s Bay, St John in the first instance.
But the Martin’s Bay leg was beset by problems and never got off the ground, while the project was extended in Edey Village and Sturges on a number of occasions, despite complaints from some PSV operators that it had placed them at a disadvantage.
In February last year then Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said the project would have been extended, although he did not say what routes would have been included.
But the expansion never took place, and today, Lashley’s replacement, Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid, told Barbados TODAY the decision to end the programme was taken quite sometime ago.
“It was a decision of the previous board to bring it to an end and it’s only now being implemented by the current board,” Duguid explained.
Asked if TASI would be replaced by a similar programme, the minister simply said: “It’s finished.”
However, the grouping of owners and operators, the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), which supported the decision to end the project, said it had already presented an alternative to the authorities.
Chairman Roy Raphael told Barbados TODAY the AOPT’s recommended Transport Implementation Project (TIP) programme already had the support of at least 20 PSV operators and was superior to the TASI project.
“In my mind the project [TASI] wasn’t carefully put in place. It was rushed and my association was not consulted and when it started it had a lot of issues. I am happy that the project is finished.
“I believe that project should now be replaced by the Transport Implementation Project that was designed to assist the Transport Board. . . . . We are only waiting to have it rolled out by the new Government,” Raphael said.
He explained that unlike TASI, where the privately run PSV operators worked on a schedule, with a single van assigned to a bus route, the new project would make provisions for the PSVs to go the terminal between
6 a.m. and 10 a.m. or utilized at the request of the Transport Board.
“The vans can be used whenever it is possible and at the discretion of the Transport Board whereas the TASI project they could only work Sturges or Edey Village. The buses will be used to move passengers from the terminals,” he said.
While the AOPT boss supported the decision to end TASI, passenger Muriel Carrington, who was awaiting a St Andrew bus at the Princess Alice terminal, expressed her opposition to the move.
“I want them to bring back the TASI because honestly it used to help me a lot. Sometimes I would be in the terminal waiting for a while and when I see those minivans I used to be real happy. Even if I have to stand up I feel good because I get to go home. A lot of people would depend on it because it really helped us out,” Carrington told Barbados TODAY.