Seven weeks after private sector transport owners met Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid to discuss a number of gripes, one of the groupings of owners is insisting it still wants a fare rise.
Amidst reports of a likely increase in fares from $2.00 to $3, the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) today said it would continue to demand an increase for ZRs and minibuses until an agreement was reached with Government.
“That [bus fare hike request] is still very much on the table,” Mark Haynes, the AOPT public relations officer told Barbados TODAY.
“As you know, the cost of the fuel tax [which took effect on July 1] has really placed a burden on the sector. We have that still on the table and we are in talks with the Government on an increase. We have been asked to submit proposals and we acceded to Government’s request,” Haynes stressed.
Since the two sides met on July 10 to discuss the impact of the new fuel tax on the public transportation system, as well as other matters, there has been no word on any progress from the talks.
The PSV owners have complained that the tax of 40 cents per litre on diesel and gasoline, and five cents per litre on kerosene, was having a devastating impact on their businesses with expenditure for route taxis increasing to $6,741 from $2,250, while minibus operators are forced to fork out $10,861, up from $3,625.
Following the July 10 talks President of the Association of Public Transport Operators Morris Lee had said the owners were optimistic that their cries would be heard.
“We had a very productive meeting. Essentially the Government recognizes the significance of transport to Barbados and the contribution it has made over the years. We have agreed to come together on this because we understand that it would take more than one meeting. We have been given a blank sheet on which to draw on in terms of what we want to bring to reality,” Lee said.
The operators have been demanding an increase in bus fares from $2, as well as duty-free concessions on new vehicles, and Lee expressed confidence that a solution could be arrived at that did not increase the burden to commuters or put additional drain on the public purse. He did not elaborate.
Today, the AOPT said it was looking forward to hearing from Government in short order with respect to the contentious issues.
In June of this year, Barbados TODAY reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had recommended an overhaul of the operations of the state-owned Transport Board (TB), including an increase in bus fares from $2 to $5 per passenger.
While complaining that the Board’s business model was too “restricted”, the IMF warned that the existing bus fare must change in order to ensure the future viability of the loss-making entity, which is currently faced with a shortage of buses. (EJ)