With school children heading back to the classroom on Tuesday morning, the Transport Board has once again found itself in a race against time to restore its aging fleet to acceptable numbers.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY at the Fairchild Street terminal, General Manager, Felicia Sue revealed that the ailing fleet was “steadily increasing” and currently stood at 50.
While this is nearly 120 short of the figure previously touted by officials as the ideal number of buses on the road, Sue predicted that fully functioning buses would slowly become available in the coming weeks, due to the bus company’s preventative maintenance programme.
“My target is for us to reach 60 in another week or so and because of our preventative maintenance programme, we expect to be ready to assist schools where possible,” she said.
“The service will definitely get better at the Transport Board, because we have rolled out a robust preventative maintenance programme where we’ve concentrated on trying to get 15 buses per month back in service.
Since the announcement of the 75 per cent increase in bus fare, Barbadians have been crying out for better service from the Transport Board with some arguing that until the country was able to secure more buses, the increase should be placed on hold.
With such decisions far beyond her control and with spanking new electric buses expected to arrive between August and September this year, Sue has promised to maximize the limited resources currently at the Transport Board’s disposal.
“Because of our preventative maintenance programme and our work with our service providers, particularly UCAL (United Commercial Autoworks Limited), we are looking to reach 75 buses,” she said.
The general manager also revealed that the transition from $2.00 bus fare to $3.50 had been extremely smooth. She added that with its implementation, sales for the new Travel Smart cards have started to increase.
“I must say that ticket sales are really exceptional at this point. I am really pleased with the tickets that are 28 trips at $84 where persons are getting a $14 saving because that normally would have cost $98. The sales for that one in particular are going really good, because that equates to $3 per trip.
The transferable tickets, which are to be sold to frequent passengers for 10,14, 20 and 28 trips with discounts ranging from 30 cents per ride to 50 cents per ride, were announced in the March 20 Budget.
Sue encouraged Barbadians to use the cards to their advantage.
“We are also going to be working with the PSVs in the TAP programme and we have started discussions with them already to determine whether we could use our smart card going forward as we all move toward a cashless system,” she said.