TAP is moving full steam ahead!
That is the word from chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick, who indicated that the recent alternative put forward by the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) was not a feasible option.
That alternative was to pull Transport Board buses from routes adequately serviced by privately-owned units, which would allow those buses instead to ply routes which now have reduced or non-existent service.
APTO was of the opinion that the alternative would reduce the duplication of services caused by the Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP).
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Estwick said Government had seen enough interest in the TAP to move forward.
When asked if the Transport Authority was considering APTO’s suggestion, he said it was paying more attention to the rolling out of TAP.
“We are moving full flight ahead into the TAP programme. Only today we had a meeting with 32 former Transport Board drivers who are interested in signing up to the programme, so everything is going well.
“We are going ahead with the original programme. That is all I can say at this moment,” the chairman maintained.
TAP was initially conceptualized to supplement the Transport Board’s diminishing fleet.
Back in April, Prime Minister Mia Mottley explained that the programme would see public service vehicles (PSVs) integrating with the Transport Board in an effort to help move commuters.
But spokeswoman for APTO Ingrid King told Barbados TODAY she was disappointed by the stance taken by the Transport Authority.
She explained that the proposal was geared at avoiding duplication and congestion.
King said APTO had forwarded the proposal to Mottley; Minister of Transport Dr William Duguid, Minister in the Ministry of Transport Peter Phillips, as well as Estwick for review.
She said to date they had received no follow up to that correspondence.
King argued that the opinions of transport operators, some of whom have worked in the sector for decades, should have been acknowledged.
“It is unfortunate if the Transport Authority has decided not to at least consider the option put forward. PSV operators are uniquely placed to know what is going on and to also have feedback from the commuters. Serious consideration should be given as to how those operators feel,” King said.
“No harm could have been done if the Transport Authority had at least had discussions with APTO about the suggestions put forward. I think it would be a big blunder not to consider the input of those transport professionals.”
However, King said that even at this late stage, APTO was still willing to have a sit down with the relevant authorities for discussions on the matter.
“APTO is not opposed to sitting down at the table so we can come up with the best option for our commuters,” she said.
APTO member Ian Walcott said that the suggestion had 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.