Not every public service vehicle (PSV) driver is in line with the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), which is calling for commuters to be prosecuted for boarding and disembarking from PSVs at areas other than at a bus stop.
While AOPT Public Relations Officer Mark Haynes did not completely absolve drivers for stopping any and everywhere for passengers, he told Barbados TODAY if commuters are charged it would curb the illegal practice by forcing drivers to stop only at bus stops.
However, one driver today ridiculed the idea, arguing it was up to the operators to decide whether or not they wished to deliberately flout the law.
“They do not have to stop otherwise than at a bus stop if they do not want to,” the driver, who wanted to be identified as Goose, told Barbados TODAY.
“Of course, they are to blame because they are driving it. I honestly do not think so [that commuters should be prosecuted]. If the van supposed to stop at the bus stop and they decide to stop otherwise than at a bus stop and they are caught it is all on themselves,” he said.
In addition, Goose said, it did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the rewards were not worth the risks.
“No, seriously, it is on themselves. I know everybody looking for the extra dollar [but] you are going to stop and pick up a person and then get fine $600 or $700. It doesn’t make sense.”
The PSV operator’s views largely reflected those of commuters who spoke to Barbados TODAY about the issue, most of whom preferred anonymity.
Like Goose, one person who gave his name as Mr Gamble, said the entire situation was a matter of choice for both commuters and the PSV operators.
“That is ignorance,” he said.
“Choice is what matters. If you make the right choice there should be no consequences. Of course, we too as passengers have a responsibility as well. Again it comes down to choice. Doing the right thing. They should never be in that situation, to begin with. We have to develop a culture of behaviour, but unfortunately, we cannot normalize our beliefs and legalize morality, it comes from within,” he stressed.
The practice of stopping any and everywhere has been deemed by many a road user as annoying at the very least. One commuter today said it was one of her gripes with the PSV operators.
“They have no right to stop if it is not a bus stop. They stop here, there and everywhere and it is so frustrating. Why can’t you stop at the bus stop?” she asked.
Long criticized for their behaviour on the roads, as well as their comport, many of the owners and operators have been promising to clean up their act and improve their looks.
However, one elderly woman today raised the issue of hygiene, telling Barbados TODAY while the indiscriminate stopping was a concern, her bigger peeve was the way the drivers and conductors looked and the foul language some used.
In fact, she also took issue with the ordour emanating from many of the PSVs.
“They need to go and get uniforms. Second, they have got to make themselves smell tidy. Third, they must have the vans properly cleansed because when you get in the van it smells like they sleep in the van as it has that dope scent,” the woman said.
“I telling you people crying out about it – the expressions in their mouths -and you have children [in the minivan]. They have no respect not all,” she added.
In an interview yesterday with Barbados TODAY, Haynes had contended 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.
“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. (LG)