Commuters have so far shared mixed views on the announcement that school children are to pay $2.50 on board all PSV’s with immediate effect.
Agreement on the new fare was reached after Prime Minister Mia Mottley chaired a three-hour meeting with four cabinet ministers, the two organisations representing route taxis and minibuses – the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) and Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) – and Transport Board chairman Gregory Nicholls.
Ministers of Transport William Duguid and Peter Phillips, Minister of Innovation Senator Kay McConney and Elder Affairs Minister Cynthia Forde took part in the talks.
At the Princess Alice Bus Terminal commuters and PSV operators speaking to Barbados TODAY were divided in their reaction to the news.
A PSV driver on the Jackson-Warrens route declared: “It should be $2 as it was before. I do not see why they changed it in the first place.”
He was joined by another PSV driver who also operates the Jackson-Warrens route who said the one-dollar discount on the full fare would help low-income parents, declaring the cost of living to be high.
“I think it is reasonable considering some parents have more than one child to deal with,” he said.
A conductor on the same route, Shaquille Mayers, said his van mainly caters to adults, and he was therefore neither here or there on the decrease for school children.
A PSV driver who operates the Deacons and Grazettes route, who identifed himself as “Short Boss”, said that at $3.50, the fare was steep for school children. But claiming that some students come to him on mornings with $50 bills, he said he believed high school students could afford paying full fare.
He said: “Some of these school children come to me on a morning with $50, $20 and they take it out of their pocket a day and they are in the van bragging and boasting. So, some of them could pay. On the other hand, some parents have three and four children to send school and it is hard on a household. Some of the little primary school children I do not mind getting $2 from them.”
A commuter who works in Government told Barbados TODAY that although the decrease would be beneficial to low-income households, the fact remains that many school children prefer to catch the “ZR”-registered route taxis.
“School children prefer to catch ZR’s. So they can afford to pay the $3.50 the economy needs it,” she said.
Perro Holloway, a St James resident, told Barbados TODAY that he felt the PSV’s should also allow school children to ride free.
“If the Transport Board is made to carry the burden of carrying the children free then I believe the PSV’s should also do it. You have over 750 PSV’s and 40 buses but still, we are complaining about Transport Board. We should not have a transportation problem,” she said.
For Keshon Allsopp, a student of St Leonard’s Boys, said he believes the bus fare should be further decreased to $2.
“It [was] seven dollars if you had to catch two vans and then you would only have $3 for lunch. It should really be two dollars for school children,” Allsopp said.
But Harrison College Upper Sixth student Cherece Richards said while the decrease would benefit school children she doubted it would help the economy.