Commuters, frustrated by poor public transport service, are to be given an opportunity to vent and suggest improvements, as a “commuter advocacy group” tours the island.
The group is an initiative of public relations firm, Haigh Communications Inc., which is headed by former Barbados Water Authority spokeswoman Joy-Ann Haigh.
She said: “We are not just here to hear complaints, but to find out how the Transport Board and Transport Authority can help, and we will share the information with the relevant authorities.”
The tour started in St Lucy over the weekend and will continue to touch on each parish as it is highlighted during the Government’s We Gatherin’ events.
During a stop at Brie’s Sports Bar and Minimart in Pie Corner, two patrons shared their concerns about the public transport system. One man, who gave his name as Goddard, said the bus schedules needed work as most of the time, they were not deployed at times when people needed them most.
Goddard said: “You start to get buses when the supervisors in Speightstown decide they want to send a bus.
“Sometimes the buses from Bridgetown come down the road marked “Speightstown”; once they get there, they then transfer the buses and the people in the bus to the different districts like Boscobel, Pie Corner, Josey Hill, Connell Town and Indian Ground.
“Another problem is they divert the buses off the area in the peak time for the people who really want them.
“You have to get a bus at ten past five in the morning; one will come at 6 if it comes; at 6:30 no bus comes; seven or eight o’clock, you might get one; nine o’clock doesn’t come; ten o’clock no; you get a twelve, a two o’clock but in the evening when you want a four or five o’clock bus, you don’t get one.”
He suggested: “While they double up some routes like Josey Hill and Pie Corner, it would be better if they do that for a route that’s a circle, like Pie Corner and Boscobel, whereas with Josey Hill and Pie Corner the bus has to go up and come back down.
“But for this to work you have to have enough buses to do it.”
Another patron, Chesterfield Murphy, said his job in Wildey, St Michael, requires him to get to work at 6 a.m.
He said: “The bus comes at 5:15, so when that bus gets to Speightstown, there is no way I can get to work for six o clock, so I get into Wildey at half-past six or quarter to seven. We need a four o’clock bus from Pie Corner, to go to Connell Town, Josey Hill, then onto Bridgetown, and you should get to town early enough to catch a bus to another part of the country.”
A woman, who did not want to be identified, in Cave Hill, St Lucy, said one of the major problems in her district was that the buses often did not travel as far as Cave Hill, turning around before they reached that destination. She complained that minibuses and route taxis ran infrequently, especially on weekends.
Pastor Marcus Hinds, who is responsible for two churches in Greenidge’s and Lowlands, called for more bus shelters, suggesting that their construction could be a community project.
He said: “There are people who stand by the wayside a long time waiting for the bus and there is nowhere to shelter from the sun or rain.
“We used to have a shelter here in Pie Corner, but that is gone now, so that leaves only three bus shelters in the whole parish: one near St. Lucy’s Parish Church, another at Pickerings and one by Mount Gay.”
It was then that Haigh issued an appeal to corporate Barbados to consider putting more shelters in St. Lucy.
She said: “Let’s get something committed to, even if it comes a few months later; at least make the people comfortable until the new buses come.”
But Pastor Hinds suggested: “We do not have to wait on the government; people in the community have a responsibility to show their love for the community, and if those responsible for the bus shelters came in and spoke to us, we could get together and work on them as a community initiative.”