An alternative to replace the newly introduced Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP) has been presented to Government for consideration.
The new suggestion has been put forward by the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), and is intended to take the place of the TAP which was rolled out at the beginning of the month.
At the centre of the latest proposal is to pull Transport Board buses from the routes adequately serviced by privately-owned units and free them up to ply those routes with reduced or non-existent service presently.
Ian Walcott, a member of APTO, told Barbados TODAY the proposal had already been submitted to Prime Minister Mia Mottley; Minister of Transport Dr William Duguid, Minister in the Ministry of Transport Peter Phillips, as well as chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick for review.
That document was signed by APTO’s interim chairman Morris Lee.
TAP was initially conceptualized to assist with the fallout from the Transport Board’s diminishing fleet which has resulted in diminished service to hundreds of commuters.
Mottley had explained that the programme would see public service vehicles (PSVs) integrating with the Transport Board in an effort to help move commuters.
“The logistics relative to the location and lay out of the Cheapside Terminal provide for a much simpler solution than the Constitution Road River/Fairchild Street Terminal situation. We propose that since the Transport Board buses and the PSVs use virtually the same entry and exit, the service provided to commuters at the Cheapside location be consolidated to eliminate the duplication of service there,” the document dated May 17, 2019 read.
“APTO considers that the primary constraint to the provision of a better service to commuters using these terminals is the present duplication of services. The TAP that currently exists fails to address the duplication of transport services from these two locations.”
According to Walcott, APTO’s proposal is much simpler and more effective than TAP.
“It is a simple alternative. Basically what it is, is that there is no need for the duplication of service. The Prime Minister is insisting on this unified transportation system and we are saying that it doesn’t make sense to duplicate routes in different van stands.
“There is no need to try to send buses to routes that are already serviced adequately by PSVs. It would free up Transport Board buses to operate on the routes that don’t have PSVs,” Walcott explained.
Additionally, he said the new plan suggested PSVs plying certain routes such as Bathsheba, Howells and Ivy, Bush Hall and Airy Hill should continue to operate from the Constitution River Terminal.
It was recommended that other routes such as Sam Lord’s Castle, Fairy Valley, Rendezvous and St Patrick’s, which are currently operating from the Constitution Terminal be transferred to the Fairchild Street Terminal.
Walcott said the suggestion had also received favourable responses from PSV operators and owners.
He maintained that Government needed to “listen to the men in the industry” so that everyone would be on the same page.
The proposal presented to Government maintained that private PSVs were being disadvantaged by TAP.
It described Government’s charge of 12.5 per cent of gross revenue for all PSVs involved in TAP as being “particularly onerous”.
“APTO has always supported the
concept of augmentation, but there are areas of concern within the current TAP programme that are in serious need of urgent review, as they only serve to put the privately-owned PSVs engaged in the programme at a serious disadvantage,” the proposal outlined.
“To this end APTO is hereby proposing a more practical solution to tackle the issue, while at the same time highlighting the areas of disadvantage that currently exist as we firmly believe that some of the current stipulations have resulted in the Transport Authority’s inability to meet the target of 100 units, while we await the arrival of the proposed fleet of Ebuses,” it added.
Walcott said in the current setup of the TAP, only a small portion of owners and operators would benefit.
He said if there was going to be a unified transport system he believed it should be across the board.