With Crop Over just a month away, one of the island’s associations for privately-owned Public Service Vehicles (PSV), says it plans to petition Government to allow operators to go off their designated routes during certain events this season.
According to president of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), Roy Raphael, over the years too many operators have been charged for going off route during Crop Over events, even though it made more sense logistically to pick up and drop off commuters closer to the festivities.
“We are going to be approaching Government very shortly, through the association, asking them to give us special permits to operate off route with events such as Kadooment Day, Bridgetown Market, Foreday Morning and so on. It makes more sense to be able to take the passengers as close as possible to the event and to make sure that they don’t have to walk far to get a bus when they are ready to leave,” said Raphael.
He added, “it just makes sense and it is safer for the travelling public as well. If you look at the night events, depending on what direction you are coming from, you have to walk through Bridgetown. When you are ready to go home, you have to make the same walk back with liquor in your head. When operators try to accommodate the passenger, they get heavy fines for it.”
Raphael made it clear that he was not at all proposing for a free-for-all scenario but rather a process where a select number would have permission to operate for these events.
“At the same time, we don’t want chaos on the road, so we are suggesting that we devise a system to select some drivers for these special permits. It could be done through the AOPT or as an incentive for those with good records on the road. The choice would be up to the authorities, but we are just saying that we would like to have something in place so that we can benefit from these events too,” he noted.
Apart from the safety and business factors, Raphael said Government was essentially engaging in unfair competition, as for years the Transport Board buses have been allowed to freely roam the Crop Over circuit.
“Our buses would like to capitalise on these lucrative events. When the Transport Board goes these routes, they are safe but once our buses do the same thing, we are deemed off route. We are dragged before the court and have to pay heavy fines,” he lamented.
The AOPT president further noted, “We really need to open discussions with the Transport Authority and with the Minister of Transport and Works (William Duguid) to discuss those areas where special permits would be given through our organisation for operators who would like to drop off passengers close to the venues as well as to pick those leaving the events,” he said.