There could soon be close to 1000 public service vehicles (PSVs) on Barbados’ roads.
However, the move by Cabinet to reportedly issue over 100 new permits has angered PSV owners and operators, who are claiming that several routes are already overcrowded.
When contacted by Barbados TODAY, chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick pointed out that the decision to grant new permits was not taken by the authority, but by Cabinet.
And while he confirmed that new permits had been issued, he offered very little additional information.
“It was Cabinet’s decision not the Transport Authority’s. As far as I know, the PSVs will not be sent to any specific routes, but for anything more I would direct you to speak to the minister,” he said.
However, repeated efforts to reach Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Dr William Duguid today proved unsuccessful.
According to reports, the new permits being granted were authorized by the former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government.
A source close to the situation said because those permits had already been processed, there was little the current Government could do.
The move has caught the president of the Association Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael by surprise.
He told Barbados TODAY he was shocked, as Government had not consulted any of the bodies representing PSV owners and operators before making the decision.
“I believe though, that the associations generally are very surprised at the fact that Government would have gone that route without consultation with the players in the industry.
“We understand that Government has transportation challenges. I believe the decent thing for Government to have done was to cooperate or speak to the representatives of the associations that represent owners so that we could have an opportunity to have a discussion, but that has not happened,” Raphael said.
“We don’t think that an increase in permits should have been granted at this particular moment. There are still some issues on the road that need to be resolved.”
Public relations officer for the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) Ingrid King, told Barbados TODAY that the body had heard reports but had received no official word from Government.
In offering a brief comment, she called for the establishment of a National Transport Policy, based on solid industry information.
“It would take a lot of these things into account as opposed to a piecemeal approach, which hasn’t been the best for the industry to date,” King said.
An irate owner who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was “madness” to issue more permits at this time.
He revealed that with close to 300 minibuses and 500 ZRs on the road, any further increase would lead to severe challenges.
He said owners could only “wait and see” where those new PSVs would be placed.
“Right now there are over 100 ZRs on the Silver Sands route, over 40 on the Fairy Valley route and over 70 on the Wanstead route. Those routes are particularly overcrowded and if more ZRs are given permits to ply those routes then things are going to get dread,” the owner said.
“Most of the routes are already overcrowded, so I don’t know what would possess Cabinet to issue more permits. This is complete madness!”
Another owner said he expected the new ZRs and minibuses to be placed on the more popular routes.
He maintained that any new route would not be financially rewarding.
“As you can see what happened when the Transport Authority tried to put some of the PSVs on new routes, they took the authority to court and they won, so those new PSVs won’t be going on any new routes,” he said.
“That then means that those PSVs are going to be placed on existing routes and that is only going to create more chaos, more bad behaviour and more hustling because the drivers and conductors are looking for money and that is more competition.”