Route taxi and minibus owners have delivered a fresh wish list – including a long-standing call for a bus fare increase – to Prime Minister Mia Mottley, the bus owners’ spokesman said today.
“That [bus fare hike request] is still very much on the table,” Mark Haynes, the AOPT public relations officer told Barbados TODAY.
The president of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), Morris Lee, said the proposals followed the Prime Minister’s instructions to the body.
Industry stakeholders, including chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick and Director Alex Linton met recently at Parliament Buildings to discuss progress on the proposals. But officials have continued to decline spelling out their details.
“[The meeting] was just an update on what the Prime Minister has asked us to do, that we have done and sent back to her. We are waiting to hear what the Prime Minister’s response is going to be,” Lee told Barbados TODAY.
“The Prime Minister told us to prepare a proposal that speaks to improvements in the sector. We did that. She further had instructed that when it was done, to pass it onto the Minister of Transport and have further discussions with him, which we have completed. And she indicated that after those discussions were completed that the Minister of Transport would report back to her,” he said.
The APTO president said that after this process was concluded, the Prime Minister would then summon another meeting to discuss the state of the transport industry.
“We have done what we were supposed to do in terms of compliance and therefore we are awaiting a response to the compliance that we have essentially participated in,” he added.
Back in late August, one of the groupings of PSV owners insisted it still wanted a fare rise following talks with Prime Minister Mottley and Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Dr William Duguid.
Amid reports of a likely increase in fares from two to three dollars, the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) has said it would continue to demand an increase for ZRs and minibuses until an agreement was reached with Government.
“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.
The PSV owners have also complained that the new fuel 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 spending for route taxis increasing to $6,741 from $2,250, while minibus operators are paying out $10,861, up from $3,625.
Following the July 10 talks with the Government, 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 then.
The operators have also been seeking duty-free concessions on new vehicles. Despite calling for a bus fare hike, 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.