Six months after putting forward a proposal for a fare hike, Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators are yet to know if their request will be approved and under what conditions.
However, indicating that he would still be pressing Government for a $3 bus fare, Chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael said he was appealing to Prime Minister Mia Mottley to answer their call.
While acknowledging that there were many other pressing issues occupying the attention of the new Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration, Rapheal said the issue of an increase in bus fare was an essential one.
In addition, Raphael told Barbados TODAY he was eagerly looking forward to Government granting duty free concessions on new vehicles for PSV operators.
“The last time we had talks with the Government [about a fare increase] was about three months after we had an election and we met with the Prime Minister of Barbados. Since then we have not had any discussions. She was supposed to get back to us so we can have further discussions but nothing has yet been done. So we are just hoping that we can go back to the table to have further discussions,” said Raphael.
He quickly pointed out that PSV operators were in constant communication with Government on other issues including the touchy subject of uniforms with the Transport Authority logo and revocation of drivers’ licences after two breaches of road traffic laws.
In relation to the increase in bus fare, it was in August last year that AOPT presented Government with a proposal for fares for the general public to go from $2 to $3 and for school children in uniforms to pay $2.
“Once duty-free is given to us and the Government increases the bus fare, we will still maintain the $2 ride for school children,” said Raphael.
PSV operators had gone ahead and increased the bus fare for school children from $1.50 to $2 in April last year.
The proposal for a fare hike was first put forward to the then Freundel Stuart administration in June 2017 and again in April 2018, but there was no action on it.
“When the new BLP administration came into office we then presented a new proposal for the $3 bus fare,” said Raphael, who insisted that the replacement of the road tax with a 40 cent charge on fuel was having a devastating impact on PSV business.
“Definitely we are looking forward for the increase in bus fare.
Barbados TODAY understands that there was a possibility that Government could grant the increase to PSV operators while maintaining the $2 bus ride on Transport Board buses, even as it seeks to outfit the struggling entity with electric buses.
Asked about that possibility, Raphael said if that turned out to be the case, it would force PSV operators to get their act together since it would increase competition.
It is estimated that PSV operators currently transport about 75 per cent of the travelling public in Barbados.
“If Government decides not to increase their bus fare but allow the PSV to get $3 it will have a significant impact as we move the travelling public,” he said.
With more than 70 per cent of their vehicles over five years old, which is also now becoming a concern for insurance companies, Raphael said it was critical that Government grant them the concessions so they could upgrade their fleet