Member of Parliament for Christ Church West and Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Dr William Duguid, says his Government will ensure that the island’s public transport system is properly managed in the wake of the bus fare hike announced in yesterday’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
Dr Duguid reiterated the rationale for the fare increase, noting: “The Transport Board has been spending $60 to $70 million a year, but only taking in $20 million owing to bus sustainability. We have to restructure it, because we had a situation where we had 60 buses and 250 drivers, so it meant many days people came to work, got paid and didn’t have a bus to drive, so the Prime Minister took the time to explain to the workers what we would do. Some opted for voluntary separation, but part of the process means making the system better.”
The Minister stated, “We will be using some minibuses and ZRs to meet the transportation needs, and these will be labeled Transport Board, so senior citizens and schoolchildren will still ride free on these buses. We also plan to get the retrenched drivers to drive these vehicles for the new concessionaires.”
On the increased bus fare, Duguid said, “We recognise $3.50 is a lot for the average person to pay, and all transport systems have discounted systems for frequent users. So we are getting the expertise to ensure that when we get this programme in place we will get it right, because the people of Barbados deserve the best transport system this country can provide.”
On another matter, the Minister announced that greater efficiency was coming to the Barbados Licensing Authority.
“We want to get shorter wait times for people to come back in and repeat their driving tests, so we will get more driving test officers and instructors. To address the problems people have had with getting their driver’s licences renewed, we have received six cameras and six printers to print driver’s licences more efficiently. We are training the officers now, and we will soon have cameras and printers in three different locations.”