The head of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), said it would take at least a week to determine if the roll out of the three-month pilot project with the Transport Board and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) owners has been successful.
The pilot project, which has introduced eight new routes to the country’s transportation system, officially launched today, from the hubs at Holetown, St James and Glebe Land, St George.
But today the persistent heavy showers and overcast skies dampened what was supposed to be a rousing start. When the Barbados TODAY team visited Glebe Land, St George it was a ghost town. The situation was the same for Holetown on the west coast.
President of APTO Morris Lee said he was not surprised by the lacklustre turn out. He indicated that the presence of the students when the school term began would be the determining factor in the efficiency or success of the pilot project.
“The bottom line is the children are on holiday right now. The children play a significant role in the overall transport system,” he said.
Public relations officer of the Public Service Vehicles (PSV) Workers’ Association, Fabian Wharton declined to comment on the roll out but one PSV owner who requested anonymity told Barbados TODAY PSV operators were reluctant to assume the new routes. The eight new routes established for the three-month pilot project were deemed “unprofitable” by many.
“Some of the owners don’t want to take their vans up there because it is not a profitable route.
“No driver is going to want to drive a route that isn’t profitable and diesel is expensive, you are back at square one,” said the PSV owner whose vehicles primarily operate on the Silver Sands route.
Twenty PSVs from the overcrowded #11 Silver Sands route have been assigned to Holetown and Glebe Land, St George by the Barbados Transport Authority.
The owner reasoned that the operators were working at a disadvantage with the pilot programme being forced upon them. He voiced that the Transport Authority should provide an incentive or subsidy that would motivate owners working the route.
“It is not a bad idea but you should have some subsidies, give us diesel free for a month or two months, give us some incentives to go and try it because we the owners of these vans foot the bill for everything … the most we might get is a 15 per cent discount at a parts place. Running a business and going on a route that you might not make money the first two or three months means you cannot keep up the business.”
“The drivers are not going to be encouraged to work there and go home with $50 while they are working Silver Sands and getting $ten0,” he continued.
The PSV owner was disgruntled with the execution of the pilot project. He cited that the Transportation Authority Service Integration (TSAI) on the Edey Village and Sturges routes was to be beneficial to PSV operators but the current programme was to their disadvantage.
“This is more forceful; they are saying you have to go. They are not giving the owners the opportunity to say if you want to go or not and there is no guarantee that if there is no work that you can return to Silver Sands.”
Efforts to reach the Transport Authority’s assistant director of planning Carolyn Yarde for comments on the launch of the pilot project were unsuccessful.