A frontline worker is disappointed after being forced by a Transport Board driver to sit next to another passenger despite the Board’s set COVID-19 social distancing policy.
The nurse admitted that when she boarded the Connell Town bus on Friday night she and the driver had a heated argument after she told him she would not breach the policy by sitting next to another passenger.
“But I sat at the edge of a seat next to someone but the drive was really uncomfortable. I got really irate and words come out of my mouth. People were attacking me and I was really vex.
“A guy got in the bus and he [driver] told the guy to give me his bus fare because he don’t want me in the bus, but I refused to take the money.
“I can’t say exactly how much people were in the bus but the back seat was full and persons were sitting next to persons. I sat in the side seats behind the driver and the side seats were full,” she explained.
She asked for her name not be used in the article due to fear of being victimized.
Transport Board buses should be operating at a 60 per cent capacity as it relates to seated passengers. This means that only 21 passengers should be on the bus and no one should be standing.
The passenger said she sat eventually because the driver told her he would not move the bus until she did.
“He said that if I don’t sit he wouldn’t be moving the bus. It is the way he said it. He was like, ‘sit down in this bus or this bus ain’t moving because if the police see me I will get a report’. I didn’t even know you are not supposed to be standing.
“To be honest, it is not that I don’t want to sit next to anybody because I am not scornful. But, my parents are both over 70 and my mother is ill. So I am not only looking at just protecting myself, but I protecting them too,” she said.
The nurse said she stood back up after she observed that the driver continued to pick up additional passengers. She indicated that eventually she sat in a seat where there was no one next to her when it became possible along the journey.
The situation has left the woman in her 30’s upset to the point that immediately after she got off the bus she called the Speightstown Terminal to lay a complaint.
She also took to social media to relay her story and vent her frustration.
“I was disappointed. The persons on the bus would not have known that I work where I work because we don’t wear uniforms on the road. I felt really disappointed because other people sat down and I was the only person that decided not to sit down. And nobody didn’t think for one minute ‘she right you know.’ It is like the whole bus was full of idiots. I was disappointed in the public and in the driver,” she said.
She advised that in order to avoid a recurrence of what took place on the bus on Friday night, additional buses should be placed on the roads if the demand is there.
“We have more people back on the road now and there may be a demand for more buses. But Transport Board may not know this because the drivers are picking up everybody and people sitting down next to each other and I am not willing to do that.
“When the bus stopped for me, it did not look full until I put in my bus fare. And it was not just me standing. It was myself and others but they sat when he shouted,” she said.
However, the woman admitted that there was a positive note to her experience. She said she was pleased with the professional manner in which the supervisor at the Speightstown Terminal responded to her complaint.
She said he listened carefully and responded accordingly while maintaining a calm and reassuring voice.
“He is the person that answered the phone and I spoke to him. He apologized on behalf of Transport Board. He apologized on behalf of the driver. He was just nice,” she said.
Meanwhile, Transport Board’s Chief Executive Officer Fabian Wharton confirmed that the woman did speak to a supervisor at the Speightstown Terminal who apologized and asked her to make an official complaint.
“The matter has reached us and we are conducting our internal procedures,” he said.
Wharton also told Barbados TODAY that Transport Board’s buses should be operating at a 60 per cent seated only capacity at this time.
“Passengers can’t sit next to each other. So in real terms, we also don’t allow standing so that works out to 21 passengers,” Wharton agreed.