Eight out of ten conductors of privately-owned public service vehicles are unlicensed, according to a survey commissioned by the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), the association’s chairman has revealed.
And the alliance’s head, Roy Raphael, said the study points to job cuts in the public service under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme as thwarting efforts to clean-up bad behaviour in public transport.
With the layoffs and job market uncertainty which followed the austerity measures, the number of unlicensed conductors operating in the privately-owned public transport system has increased tremendously, the survey claims.
Raphael told Barbados TODAY: “It is very disturbing to see that 80 per cent of the conductors on our roads are not legal conductors.
“We conducted our own survey and we would have carried out our own investigations, in some cases going as far as to ride on the buses to see for ourselves.
“We are seeing a worrying trend where persons just give someone a day job so that they could earn some money.
“We understand the unemployment situation and we know that things got really tough for some people after the layoffs, but this is a matter that must be addressed. It was a growing trend before, but it became worse after the layoffs.”
Raphael told Barbados TODAY that the survey shows that the majority of the unregistered newcomers are young people.
The AOPT head insisted that he is happy that the sector can provide jobs for young people, but noted that the influx of the conductors would only serve to further tarnish the industry’s image, while placing the youngsters in serious legal jeopardy.
He said: “These persons are putting themselves in some serious legal implications because they are not legally allowed to approach the public for money.
“The law gives the passengers the right not to pay under those circumstances.
“Under the Road Traffic Act, a conductor must present his badge or wearing a uniform while walking through the aisle to pick up money.”
He contended that quite often, illegal conductors were the ones who tend to create the most problems in the industry.
“The ones that are illegal create more problems than the ones that are licensed. They [unlicensed conductors] don’t wear the uniform and some of them disgrace the entire PSV sector because they are not controlled,” the AOPT chairman said.
Raphael told Barbados TODAY that his organisation is moving to work with the PSV pirates to help them go legit.
He said: “Truth be told, we look forward to having more conductors in the system and we want to encourage those persons who are not legal to become legal.
“From September we are prepared to create a special class just for them. We want to walk them through the process of how you can get a conductor licence.”
He noted that there is currently space in the system for more drivers and conductors, but it was pointless to have an inflow of people who do further harm to a system already plagued with discipline concerns.