For one reason or another, there continues to be a tumultuous relationship between operators and owners of public service vehicles (PSVs) and Government.
Within the past few months alone, PSVs and Government have been at odds on myriad issues.
A meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Mia Mottley back in April was supposed to have ironed out many of the concerns of PSV operators and owners.
And while it would be unfair to say that meeting and the several others held since were fruitless, it is still left to be seen what has actually been achieved.
Government’s brainchild, the Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP), has failed to meet expectations, several months after it was implemented.
What had initially been revealed as an initiative which would see PSVs and the Transport Board working together to provide a more reliable, efficient and profitable transport service for commuters, never properly got up and running.
Once again, a lack of communication between Government and PSV operators proved to be the breaking point, which resulted in several of the privately owned vehicles leaving TAP.
It eventually led to the Transport Authority admitting that TAP had not gone as well as planned, and that a review of the project would have to be undertaken to make it more efficient.
Soon after, PSVs operating in the Constitution River Terminal (CRT) were angered by a ‘new’ rule instituted by the Transport Authority which allowed them just five minutes to load passengers.
Upset that there had been no previous communication by the Authority about the decision to implement the rule, PSV operators staged a strike, protesting the move as unfair.
Following several meetings with the two main PSV bodies, the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) and the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), where several recommendations were put forward, an agreement was finally reached.
While the five-minute rule remains in place during peak hours, the Authority agreed to allow PSV operators to load for 10 minutes during off-peak periods.
Additionally, the Authority promised that for the next two months the initiative would be accessed with a written report to be prepared at the end of that period and made available to PSV owners and operators.
And most recently, another dispute seems to be on the horizon involving PSV operators and police.
This time, the contention surrounds a bus stop which was erected at Fairchild Street, reportedly to allow PSVs to ply their services from that point after 7 p.m., when the Constitution River Terminal becomes dark and lonely.
But, according to reports, PSV operators have now found themselves at the mercy of police officers, who have used the opportunity to report them for being there.
It seems as though whenever one step forward is made in public transport, two steps are taken backward.
The goal of providing Barbadians with an effective mode of transport has seemingly been put on the backburner as PSVs and Government continue to squabble at every turn.
A recent increase in bus fare has not resulted in an improved bus service to commuters as was promised.
The small number of available Transport Board buses has not yet been bolstered, leaving commuters waiting long hours to get to their required destinations.
It is obvious that a coalition between Government and PSVs is needed, but the relationship thus far between the two has been rocky.
Heading into the New Year, it is essential that Government and PSV owners and operators put their differences aside for the sake of the necessary development of our public transport services.
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