Taxi operators are not in favour of being used as public transport unless Government pays them a stipend for transporting commuters.
That is the view of several operators who operate from the taxi stand at Lower Broad Street who told Barbados TODAY it would make absolutely no sense for them to carry passengers for the normal bus fare of $3.50 as they could only carry a maximum of four people at a time.
Last Friday, the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) spokesperson on Small Business Ryan Walters suggested that Government utilize the services of taxi operators in helping to transport commuters.
He said because of the current COVID-19 restrictions which only allow public service vehicles (PSVs) and Transport Board buses to carry 60 per cent of their capacity, taxi operators could be integrated, especially as the country moves towards Phase 3.
But when asked to give their thoughts on the suggestion, taxi operators said it was not feasible unless Government offered them additional income.
“We can only carry four people. Take for example if they are going to St Joseph that is only $3.50 per person and that doesn’t make sense. If we are going St Joseph at $80 then that is ok,” Andrew Weekes, a taxi driver for over 20 years told Barbados TODAY.
“It would have to be a situation where they are paying us extra.”
Weekes pleaded with Government to lend some assistance to taxis as he said they were “suffering” right now.
“We need some help because we ain’t getting no money out here. Sometimes we come out here and sit down a whole day and don’t get a job. We have to go back home broke and we still have to buy something to eat and put back in gas,” he added.
Andrew McCaskie who has been driving taxi for over 30 years called for Government to give them some form of subsidy.
He said with no tourists expected on the island in the near future it would be hard for taxi operators to make a proper living.
“The only good days we have are when the tourist season is in, otherwise it’s hard for us. We aren’t going to have any tourists here for a little while so what they can do is give us some money,” McCaskie said.
“If we can get $200 or $300 a week that would be enough because that is better than what we are getting now which is nothing.”
McCaskie said things were so dire that he believed several taxi operators would be unable to repay their loans and would have their vehicles seized.
“A lot of taximen are going to lose their vehicles between now and September or November because they can’t meet the payments and the bank don’t want to hear that you can’t pay because you were in quarantine,” he said.
Another operator who asked to remain anonymous said taxi operators who work at the Bridgetown Port had received vouchers and queried why the same could not be done for them.
While Andre Marshall has only been driving taxi for the past three years, he said something needed to be done to help persons in the sector during this time.
“They have to treat us better than this. They should at least come out and talk to us and see what our concerns and problems are because right now things real rough,” he said.
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