So owners of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) are up in arms over the recent move by the Transport Authority to relocate them.
They are crying foul over what they are contending to be unfair treatment from the Transport Authority.
Trouble don’t set up like rain, as the old saying goes.
This is one ‘set of trouble’ which generated thunderstorms that could have been seen a mile away.
Whenever there is an issue between the Transport Authority and PSV operators, it always seems to stem from a reluctance to sit down at the table.
They have seemingly been at loggerheads ever since a decision was taken to integrate the private transport and the state-owned Transport Board.
Only a few months ago, the two entities failed to reach an agreement with respect to the wearing of branded uniforms.
In this instance, the Transport Authority has used the law to remove some PSVs from overcrowded routes and placed them on others to ensure reliable transport for all.
According to the Authority’s chairman Ian Estwick, the permits used by PSVs are not owned by the operators but are the property of the Crown.
Be that as it may, PSV operators and the Transport should have sat at the negotiating table.
Seldom are confrontations and disagreements diffused without communication.
As a result, it is no surprise that the situation seems headed for the law courts.
Days after several PSV’s were transferred from their routes, those aggrieved owners have now retained the services of an attorney-at-law to challenge the Transport Authority.
The ironic thing about this latest development is that Estwick himself expected legal action to be taken.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY last month, the chairman said he was aware that the news had not been well received and was expecting legal challenges to the decision.
We are sure he would understand why the PSV owners would feel this way.
While it has been known and accepted for several years that certain routes such as Silver Sands, Bush Hall, Silver Hill and Fairy Valley are overcrowded with route taxis, those particular routes have still proved profitable. This is clearly why those routes have remained so popular.
Perhaps the Transport Authority could possibly have given those PSVs who were willing to be relocated a first bite at the cherry, rather than randomly selecting who would be moved.
And to be fair, while passengers on the proposed new routes would be grateful for the increased number of PSVs serving them, for owners and operators they will likely be less profitable.
While everyone will agree that the end result should be an improved public transport for all, PSV owners and operators are obviously concerned about supporting themselves and their families.
Why then would the Transport Authority expect PSV owners and operators to quietly accept the fact that their livelihoods are likely to be severely affected, at least in the short term?
But we believe the real problem is a lack of communication between the two sides.
Both the Transport Authority and PSV owners and operators need to accept the fact that they need each other and must learn to coexist peacefully.
While PSVs provide an invaluable service to the thousands of commuters who use them daily, they must also understand that they are not a law unto themselves. They must be prepared to accept that.
And the Transport Authority must recognise that while it is the law, it can speak more softly even as it walks with a big stick.