It’s still early days yet, but commuters appear reluctant to purchase the Travel Smart cards from the Transport Board ahead of Monday’s 75 per cent bus fare increase to $3.50.
Many angry bus riders interviewed by Barbados TODAY appear opposed to the hike coming before an improvement in bus service.
The transferable tickets, which are to be sold to frequent passengers by 10,14, 20 and 28 trips with discounts ranging from 30 cents per ride to 50 cents per ride, were announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in March 20 Budget.
Passengers who spoke to a Barbados TODAY team at the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal spoke out strongly against buying the tickets, which were officially available from just after four o’clock this evening.
One Foster Hall, St Joseph resident said she was waiting for more than two hours for the Bathsheba bus.
Declaring she was beyond frustrated with the long wait times she has had to endure in the bus terminal to get home on evenings, she said she would not be buying the new tickets.
“I would prefer to try to get rides with friends and family to get from point A to point B and eliminate having to take the passes.
“I am one of those persons that do not have the patience to stand up here for so many hours and rely on an unreliable bus system.
“In the next week, we have to pay an extra $1.50 and there are no new buses, the service is not reliable. To increase bus fare and the service is horrible I think it’s ridiculous.”
A Massiah Street, St John commuter said she was not purchasing the passes because the Society bus came once every six hours.
In a statement issued ahead of the roll out of the Travel Smart cards, acting general manager of the Transport Board Felicia Sue said the bus tickets were “the first step in making public transport more affordable for Barbadians and bringing the Transport Board up to international standards of public transportation.”
Noting that the change was customer oriented, she explained that the cards would allow commuters to have approximately 15 per cent discount and in some cases as high as four free trips per card depending on which card is purchased.
“For example, a commuter that purchases a 28-trip ticket would normally pay $98 for 28 trips, with the Travel Smart option you will pay $84, a savings of $14 or 4 free trips.”
However, a retired Christ Church resident declared that many Barbadians would not take
advantage of the frequent passenger tickets unless they were distributed in their communities.
“The pensioner said: “Somebody would have to bring them for them or have a central location issuing them. But if they have to go and collect them, they are not going to go. The bus service is not reliable,” he said.
Commenting on reports that the Transport Board’s service could be privatised he said: “I do not think transport should be something that should be privatised as you have no control over the rise of bus fare.
“Poor people will suffer and school children would not be able to travel on the buses free anymore.”
A Horse Hill, St Joseph retiree said he believes the Prime Minister made a mistake when she increased bus fare while knowing that the state bus service was in dire need of an overhaul.
He told Barbados TODAY: “Sometimes I have to wait seven hours for a bus, you think in here nice? Mia made a mistake [she] should never put on bus fare without buses.”