The more frequent travellers on Transport Board buses will pay less per trip. This was outlined today by Prime Minister Mia Mottley who said commuters could save up to $14 when the Transport Board rolls out its new discounted fares.
Come April 15, when bus fares move from $2 to $3.50, the Government says it intends to offer an ease to frequent users of the bus system.
Tonight, while wrapping up the 2019 Budget debate, Prime Minister Mottley explained which tickets will be made available and the value of the trips.
“They [Ministry] would issue ten trip tickets, 14 trip tickets, 20 trip tickets and 28 trip tickets. They will roll out this in the proper way. The discounts will range from 30 cents to 50 cents per bus ride depending on how many you buy. Instead of paying the equivalent of $3.50 you could pay as low as $3.00 per bus ride.
“I have been told that a ten trip ticket will cost $32 saving $3; a 14 trip ticket will cost $44 saving $5; 20 trip ticket $62 saving $8; 28 trip tickets will cost $82 and will save $14. Or to put it in simple, simple terms when you buy that 28 trip ticket you are purchasing bus fare at $3 and not $3.50. The beauty in this is that also these tickets can be used by your children or neighbour or whoever else because what is being clicked is the ticket and not the individual.”
However, the Prime Minister pointed out that while the increase was inevitable the onus was now on Government to ensure they delivered a quality, safe and timely service to users.
“Our duty now is to make sure we have the number of buses operating to time, safe and to make sure it is just not the transport board buses that are operating to time and safely but all of the public service vehicles. We have agreed with the PSVs that there will be systems put in place and amendments to the law to ensure we can reach there.
“The Minister of Transport has assured me tonight that the Ministry will be meeting with PSVs to see how they too can put systems in place for high-volume users. The TAP [Transport Augmentation Programme] programme the minister spoke about already has committed 40 privately-owned PSVs to work on transport board routes and to makre sure the transport board can have those routes plied successfully.
Drawing reference to the cost of transportation in other neighbouring countries, PM Mottley who is also Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs and Investment, said they would not penalise people for living far or working at night as is done elsewhere.
“In other Caribbean islands people pay bus fares according to journey. We determined 30, 40 years ago across all administrations that we were not going to penalise people for living in St Lucy and St Philip. This country needed a level of equity as it relates to transport in the same way we have that equity as it relates to education and healthcare. This is who we are. This is the Barbadian way. Some countries they charge more for buses that come at night, we have not done that either. We believe that to simply place a burden on persons who have to work shift will be counterproductive…”
While admitting she preferred not to be the leader to have to implement the increase, Mottley assured Barbadians that she empathises with them as it relates to the added burden the increase is likely to cause.
“I would rather not be the Prime Minister leading a Government that would have to take the difficult decision that an entity earning $20 million a year and spending $63 million a year could not continue with that. The difference between the revenue and the spending is completely unsustainable. The stories that people tell I empathise with. But we knew all along that what we set as a fare we also would be prepared for serious volume discounts . . .”