Minibus and ZR drivers have long been condemned for stopping any and everywhere, mostly to pick up passengers, but sometimes for their commuters to alight from the vehicle.
Many of these drivers have been charged by police on numerous occasions, but this has not stopped the practice, deemed by many a road user as annoying at the very least.
Now, one of the organizations representing the privately-run public service vehicle (PSV) operators has come up with what it believes to be a novel idea to curb the practice: prosecute commuters too.
The Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) is contending that PSV drivers who breach the road traffic laws by stopping anywhere other than at bus stops should not have to take all the blame.
“We are somewhat disappointed that to date Government has not enacted the requisite legislation to penalize commuters, along with drivers, for stopping vehicles other than at bus stops,” Public Relations Officer Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
“This is something that we feel strongly about. We think this will help curb the indiscipline . . . . This is one of the measures . . . that Government [must move] assiduously to have this legislated, where commuters, as well as drivers, are penalized,” Haynes said.
The AOPT spokesman did not say why he felt passengers should also be culpable, neither did he suggest that drivers should simply ignore those asking them to stop anywhere but at designated stops.
However, he contended that prosecuting offending commuters would force the drivers to stop only at bus stops to pick up and set down passengers.
The PSV owners’ spokesman also said he looked forward to a ticketing system – one of the welcomed measures which Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid said was coming as part of a series of measures to “bring back order to the roads of this country”.
During his introduction of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2018 – passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday – Duguid said Government would do “whatever we have to do to bring order back to the roads of this country”.
Haynes told Barbados TODAY the ticketing system was a good idea as it would ease the load on an over-burdened court system.
“We look forward to a ticketing system for minor offences – where the guy is not wearing the badges, not stopping at bus stops, not wearing seat belts; those minor offences. We think that a ticketing system would be prudent to have at this time because it saves time and it eases the already clogged court system,” he said.
“We hope going forward that Government would see this aspect of it because this would go a long way, because we know we have a court system that is clogged and we don’t want to further have minor offences that can be dealt with. If workers commit infringes . . . you just ticket them, let them pay the fine and they move on,” Haynes argued.
The spokesman also praised Duguid for some of the measures in the amended legislation, including the increased passenger capacity of the vans, stiffer penalties for lawbreakers, special licence plates for commercial vehicles and the introduction of stickers identifying those covered by insurance, as well as announced plans for random drug testing.
“The sector welcomes Government’s decision to increase the seating capacity for the PSVs. I think that is an excellent step in the right direction for which Government should be commended. We also agree with the creation of the ‘C’ symbol for the commercial vehicles. That is another thing the Government should be commended for,” he said.
At the same time, Haynes declined to engage in detailed discussion on the pending drugs and alcohol testing or loud music on the ZRs and minibuses, stating these and other matters were still being discussed.