Mere days before the new $3.5 million bus terminal in The City is to become operational, route taxi and minibus owners and operators are warning the travelling public to brace themselves for chaos as the privately-run public transport service providers try to adjust to the new facility.
For starters, Public Relations Officer of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Mark Haynes said many of them are unhappy with the Constitution River Terminal, which is to be put to use from Saturday, 8 September, nearly four months after it was officially opened by the then Democratic Labour Party administration.
In addition, he suggested, drivers were not entirely pleased with the arrangements to drop off and pick up passengers.
“This terminal is not the best terminal. It is what it is. Money has been invested in this whole edifice, it has to be used and we look forward to having a smooth transition on Saturday, September 8th. However, I do not think that it will be a smooth transition,” Haynes told Barbados TODAY.
“The PSV workers have a lot of concerns which have to be addressed [and] their concerns are very legitimate . . . . Director [of the Transport Authority] Alex Linton took us on a tour from where the vehicles will turn and come into the terminal and so on. What is recognized is that there is going to be some initial problems. It is nothing perfect but it is what they have and it is what they will have to work with,” he said, while stressing that the operators would comply with the rules.
When it was first revealed in June 2013 that work had started on the then estimated $2.5 million ultra-modern terminal complex, project architect Stanton Haynes had said the nearby Nursery Drive, used then as a two-way, would become one-way from the junction between Lower Constitution Road and Upper St Michael’s Row for all vans entering the concourse. The architect had added that when the buses arrive, they would drop off passengers at the northern end, collect at the southern end and exit along Nursery Drive.
This was not listed today as one of the major concerns facing the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), whose president, Morris Lee, also warned of pending chaos come Saturday.
According to Lee, disorder and confusion were likely because many of those who operated from Probyn Street, and who were being relocated to the new terminal, still had no clue.
“We have a route called the Silver Hill, which has ZR’s working from the River terminal, and you have minibuses working from the old Empire theatre. So those minibus operators have to come over to the River terminal and be blended in. None of these buses have been told that they needed to have their permits re-routed. This is something that would take at least two months to complete,” Lee said.
“In the absence of a proper transition one could expect some chaos because operators have been out there working for 30 years and in the space of a couple days you just come and tell them they can’t work there no more and that they have to go out by the River terminal. That is unprofessional to say the least.
“As it stands now the transition from Probyn Street to the River terminal does not look like it is going to be a smooth one. I can tell you that 90 per cent operating at Probyn Street don’t even know that they have to move.”
In addition, the transport spokesman said, there was insufficient space at the new station to comfortably accommodate all of the vehicles when those that operate from Probyn Street are added to an already overcrowded bus station.
“It is going to be a tight squeeze to say the least because you currently have about 300 PSVs out there and less than 20 lanes. It is going to be a case where some routes have to share lanes to make this thing happen. When you have such a scenario the maintenance of order becomes a concern,” he stressed, adding that APTO was committed to working with the Transport Authority “to bring back order to and discipline to Industry”.
The new three-storey terminal has on the bottom floor a commuter waiting area with seating, covered access for buses, a police outpost, public toilets, an information section and advertising space.