Two senators believe that the discounted tickets promised by Government, will not protect or ease the most vulnerable in society.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley outlined a discounted ticket plan Monday night aimed at easing the burden of the increase. However, Senators Caswell Franklyn and Lindell Nurse are both concerned about how the ticket will work for those who earn minimum wage and are not in a position to pay for the discounted tickets upfront. The two are equally concerned about the poor bus system.
Franklyn asked: “Will the people who earn $250 a week be able to afford these ticket packages? Sometimes they are barely scrapping the $2. We have people in this country who are living pay cheque to pay cheque. These things need to be thought out before implementation. It sounds pretty. It sounds real nice but talk to the fella from St Lucy who I spoke to…”
“He says they don’t have a bus on mornings so they have to catch a PSV to Speightstown then from Speightstown they have to catch a bus to Bridgetown. So a guy working in Wildey has to catch another bus. He is paying five bus fares a day. When he gets this fancy ticket will he get the discount on the minibus? I think not …”
Senator Nurse pointed out that while the discounted tickets were to be lauded it would not work for the less fortunate in society.
“When you have that class of person who is working for $300 a week they can’t afford that $82 up front to benefit from that discount. The discount would defeat the whole purpose for which it is set up. We hear of cases where commuters are really, really disadvantaged because of the bad inefficient system.
Senator Nurse said he had no difficulty with an increase in bus fares but commuters in turn deserved “substantial improvements” to the bus system.
“You cannot ask commuters to pay $3.50 and still continue with the level of indifferent, bad service which they now receive. You can’t ask them to pay $3.50 and yet they have to sit in the busstand for four hours before they can get a bus. We would hope that by putting more revenue at the Transport Board by increasing the busfares that we will see substantial improvement to the operations of the system. …”
Speaking during the debate in the Upper House, Franklyn said poor people did not benefit from any of the measures in the Budget, but rather the rich gained plenty.
“We had this reverse Robin Hood budget. They are putting more stress on the poor and giving the rich a free pass. You sacrifice those people at the bottom and increase the salaries of the others. You are disadvantaging the poor and helping the rich…”
The trade unionist said the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) owners stand to gain more from the $1.50 increase than the Government which is counterproductive to routing cash to a hemorrhaging Transport Board.
“The minibus men will get a windfall. They were making money at $2. All they wanted was to get the dutyfree concessions on parts etc. The Transport Board has about 40 buses running. They need 120 buses a day.”