As bus fare shot up by 75 per cent yesterday, a group of route taxi owners has called for a police clamp-down on pirate vans seeking to cash in on the increase.
Alliance Owners of Public Transport spokesman Mark Haynes said he is concerned that there could be an increase in maxi taxis seeking to undercut route taxis as the single-trip fare moved from $2.00 to $3.50.
Haynes said: “This could be a concern for AOPT and other public service vehicle bodies. I think that when one gets increases like this, things like this happens. But this will be something for the police to monitor.
“Of course, if we are cognisant of who those persons are, we will draw it to the police’s attention and we hope that the police will pursue them.”
But Haynes said that it is too early into the new fares to determine if piracy has increased.
The AOPT spokesman contended that illegal operators are always willing to exploit periods of adjustments while legitimate operators have all of their requisite fees to cover.
He said: “In these types of situations these persons always try to capitalise as best they can. We are hoping that we do not get a lot of pirates in this situation because this will have a negative impact on the operators who have to pay their annual fees and it will not be fair to them.
“We are asking the police to vigorously pursue these perpetrators if they are caught. They must learn that there are consequences for such actions.
“Those persons who are guilty need to do some personal introspection to determine if it really makes sense to go and pirate only to be slapped with heavy penalties before the law courts. However, we are mindful that things like this are inevitable and will take place.”
There was mixed reaction this morning to the bus fare hike, especially given the insistence that privately-owned route taxis and minibuses require school children pay full fare, effectively ending the discounted price under the old fare.
School children in uniform will still be able to ride free on the state-owned Transport Board buses. Haynes predicted that school children will gravitate towards the Transport Board buses.
The AOPT spokesman said: “I think that they will gravitate towards the Government buses, given what is before them, we hope that is what happens. The point is that once they get on the PSVs, they are required to pay the $3.50 bus fares. The law doesn’t differentiate, so they have to pay the $3.50 according to law and PSV workers are required by law to accept it.”
As for mixed reaction from commuters to the new fare, Haynes said he is confident that Barbadians will come around to the rising transport cost.
He declared: “Barbadians are cognisant of the fact that the bus fare increase is a reality, so they have taken it seriously and people are complying with the new law. So far it has been smooth, and people are traversing and we are hoping that we will continue to get good reports.”