The reality of significantly inflated prices for public transportation is slowly setting in and is not sitting well with Barbadians, who are demanding a considerably higher standard in public transportation from stakeholders.
On Monday commuters started paying $3.50 per trip on local buses, minivans and route taxis. However many of them are asking that along with the 75 per cent increase, they want a 75 per cent improvement in service.
Members of the public have also continued to secure support from some Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators who say they have already started seeing a falloff in the numbers of persons travelling on their vehicles.
At the Fairchild Street bus terminal in the city, General Manager of the Transport Board, Felicia Sue adopted a hands-on approach to ensure operations ran as swiftly and efficiently as possible. However with bus availability down to just 50, delays were inevitable and commuters complained.
“I personally think the $3.50 bus fare should be implemented as soon as we get more buses on the road, because personally, it makes no sense having to pay $3.50 and there are no buses,” argued one female commuter who said she had been waiting almost two hours for a bus.
The regular user of the Transport Board’s Sargeant’s Street service said the increased fare would affect her “dramatically” and predicted that she would have to pay nearly $100 weekly as a result of the increase.
“You still have your kids to send to school, so I think that the $3.50 bus fare is too much and should be implemented as soon as the transport board gets more buses on the road,” she added.
Another commuter who only identified himself as Shondo admitted that while Barbados’ bus fare was cheaper than most others across the Caribbean, he complained that tremendous improvements were needed with the coordination of routes, particularly in rural areas. The man, who lives in St Joseph, said a number of old routes needed to be updated and extended to ensure that people living in rural areas could reach their destinations in a timely manner.
“For instance, the Sugar Hill vans are only allowed to go to Airy Hill. They also introduced another route- route 21, which is Horse Hill, but it doesn’t cover surrounding areas like Coffee Gully, Ginger Works, and Chimborazo and doesn’t go into Blackmans.
“It just feels like you’re continuing to be disadvantaged and it feels like you’re not having a proper service for the increase. I would just like to see a better service throughout from the two stakeholders.”
On the other side of Bridgetown at the Princess Alice Terminal, PSV operators debated the advantages and disadvantages of the new measures. Patrick Rouse, a driver on the Wanstead route told Barbados TODAY that aside from the minor issues like gathering a larger number of coins to give passengers change, they have noticed a falloff in sales.
“Right now, the $3.50 is too steep. It should be $3.00 and school children should be at least 2.50. Right now a lot of people are walking. I’ve seen a lot of women walking down town in their shoes because they don’t want to catch the van and come down to town. Right now $3 would be great.
“Normally at this time I would have passed over 100 passengers and right now I don’t have those numbers, so I am struggling, but I figure that tomorrow will be a little bit better,” complained Rouse.
Another PSV driver, Adzil Jordan, said he supported the raise.
The self-proclaimed Barbados Labour Party (BLP) supporter declared: “What the Prime Minister is doing, she has done properly. We never had a raise yet, so if we get $3.50 there’s nothing wrong with that. Drinks gone up, sardines gone up and there’s nothing wrong with $3.50. For owners, parts for buses gone up, tyres gone up and $3.50 is just like if you took the money and buy a banks beer and a soft drink,” he concluded. [email protected]
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