Government is making little progress towards its goal of electric-powered public transport, the head of one of the privately-owned public service vehicle organizations has claimed.
Roy Raphael, chairman of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), has suggested to Barbados TODAY that unless the Government’s plans for a clean energy transport industry gets traction, it would become increasingly difficult to meet its 2030 target.
He contended that while countries like Trinidad and Tobago have already begun pilots for the integration of electric buses into their transport system, Barbados is yet to get its first electric bus on the road.
He declared: “We are moving too slowly as it relates to making that 2030 target date for Barbados to become 100 percent renewable energy compliant.
“We believe that by 2025 Barbados should at least be 50 or 60 per cent on track in terms of electric mobilization. The way things are going right now it appears that we are no where close as it relates to that.
“We are just hearing a lot of talk, but we are not halfway near. Trinidad and Antigua have already started their pilot project with the electric buses. We were supposed to have one to start off with but we have none.
“We had a tendering process to provide the Transport Board with electric buses but we have not heard much more about that.”
Raphael also complained that the PSV owners have yet to see any follow-through on Government’s promise to provide duty-free concessions on electric buses, noting that this was an area which many were ready and willing to capitalize on, given the introduction of a fuel tax last April.
He said: “We have heard nothing more on this promise.
“As a matter of fact, only yesterday at our executive meeting, this question was raised, and we must sit back at the table with Government to see what is going on with this.
“We will welcome the concession on electric buses or hybrids.”
In May, route taxi and minibus owners were upset after Government took the decision to grant duty-free concession on electric vehicles to ‘ZM’ maxi-taxi owners, whose owners had signed on to the Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP).
The move left ZR and minibus owners questioning when their turn would come, claiming that they too were promised the same thing during negotiations with the Mia Mottley administration.
Raphael contends that Government was missing an opportunity to strike while the iron was hot, as many owners now believe that electric buses would be more cost-effective in the long run.
He said: “As owners we cannot continue this way because of the high cost of fossil fuel and that has really been cutting into our earnings everyday.
“We have essentially added an additional $25 per day to our operational expense.
“We believe that electric buses would give us a significant reduction in our fuel bill and now would be a good time for Government to further incentivise owners to go this route.” (CM)