The hike in bus fare from $2 to $3.50 will have a significant impact on the homeless.
This assessment has come from the President and Founder of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society (BVHS) Kemar Saffrey who is appealing to Government to exempt the homeless from having to pay bus fare.
Saffrey told Barbados TODAY that his request was relevant since almost on a daily basis, the Society assists several clients with money to pay for transportation to and from various destinations to conduct personal business.
He said clients often needed to travel to various Government departments to reapply for identification cards, seek health care, or collect medication among other necessary activities.
Saffrey argued that the increase would put a dent in the finances of the organisation, which does not receive a subvention from Government, but depends on donations from private entities.
“That would be on an every day basis, depending on who has to get ID cards, who has to get medication, who has to go for job interviews, who has to get to work for a week or two before they could support themselves, who has to go to look for rooms through the welfare system. People would come and tell us they have to go and look for a house today but they don’t have any bus fare.
“And this has nothing to do with the other financial assistance that we give to people. When you could have given a guy $4 to run around, now you got to look to give him $7. It would have a serious impact on the less fortunate, and it would have a serious effect on the homeless.”
During last Wednesday’s Budget Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced the increase in bus fare and two days ago, she outlined a system in which frequent travellers on Transport Board buses could benefit from discounted fares by buying multi-fare packages.
“I am not saying the Government should accommodate everybody and give away free for all rides. But again, we need to look at the times that we are in, and the fact that it would become problematic for some people to get around, especially those who are unemployed and have to go one place and that place for a stamp and the next. So we need to look at this in a serious way,” Saffrey said.