Minister in the Ministry of Transport Peter Phillips has announced a new initiative to partner with privately owned Public Service Vehicles to boost bus service to under-served districts with bus fares set to rise in just over two weeks’ time.
Outlining an apparent public-private partnership with the commercial operators, who have long pushed for a steep rise in bus fares, Phillips said minibuses will be brought into work in bus terminals, “will carry the Transport Board brand”, and a ply bus routes
Phillips also announced there will be “route rationalisation” but did not elaborate.
Suggesting that the private PSVs will operate like “a Transport Board bus does”, the Minister said children and senior citizens will travel for free on these branded vehicles.
The new arrangements are part of the Transport Authority’s Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP), an experimental mix of public and private operators on select routes.
The programme, begun by the Freundel Stuart administration, was suspended shortly after the Labour Party Government came to office.
Phillips told Parliament: “Everything that you do on the Transport Board bus you will be able to do on these minibuses which are part of the TAP programme. The TAP programme is designed to help out with the buses. We are working on that now because Barbados’ transport system has to be cleaned up.”
The MP for St Lucy said the ministry must first have the law changed in order to facilitate the programme.
He said: “Before we get to those minibuses and ZRs coming into the terminal we must change the legislation and get the laws in place that is what we are working on now. I am confident it will come to Cabinet it will be heard before this Parliament and it will be rolled out.”
Recapping what had been done in the ministry, he declared a national consultation a success and a precursor to town hall meetings.
Phillips said: “We held the first national consultation on transport. In the coming weeks we will have six town hall meetings and these plans will be discussed. When we are finished everybody would have had a say and we want to put together the best for Barbados in terms of transport. Things are being put in place. We are doing things that would help everybody.”
In an appeal to his constituents, the St Lucy MP said: “I ask the people in Barbados who live in those rural districts, like the area I represent to trust us. You have trust us thus far so continue to trust us because we are working in your best interest. I say to the people of St Lucy you have put me here to represent you and represent I will do.”