Coaches are to be used to boost the public transport service and Minister of Transport William Duguid is to meet with taxi drivers to see how they can be employed to move commuters, the Prime Minister has announced.
Briefing journalists at the end of a meeting with the Social Partnership at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, she said that 33 electric buses the Transport Board ordered are to arrive between the end of June and early July. But she said that in order to maintain the 60 per cent capacity restriction to observe social distancing on buses, the transport system has to be “augmented”.
The PM said: “In the interim Government is of the view that we are going to have to augment the bus capacity both with working with the private sector, privately-owned buses, not only the traditional B and ZM but we may have to look at some of the coaches as well to include some of the coaches into the transport board’s fleet through rental and working with the owners of those vehicles.
In particular starting with the Ross transport Coop because, as you know, Ross University has not resumed operations as yet there was a large Coop of buses that was formed in order to be able to facilitate the movement of the students from where they live to this very site.”
Giving the country the assurance that the transport sector will be one of the first things she intends to work on, she said: “I have asked the Minister to facilitate discussions with the taxi drivers and others.
“We need to be able to ensure that we can have affordable and accessible transport as far as possible. There are some people who will want to get somewhere and may not necessarily want to be exposed on a bus but may be prepared to go in a taxi but we need to have a transparent system for charging and the technology can allow us to do that now in terms of distance travelled.
“The apps that we use but at the same time, we also need to ensure that in the absence of a meter and using the technology for the setting of distance and the rates of the fares per kilometre that we also use it for availability. So that a person does not have to move from St Lucy to Spooner’s Hill to pick up somebody when there is a taxi a Black Rock that can do the job closer.
“So how best do we leverage the technology with existing taxis owners to be able to augment affordable and reliable access to public transport in Barbados whether through buses, ZRs, minibuses, coaches or taxis. I think we can do it together.”
Mottley urged public and private transport workers to continue to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions.
“As we meet here today they were others meeting within the transport sub-sector. We are aware, that not in every instance, regrettably, transport providers have adhered to the 60 per cent that we have asked them to adhere to. We are reminding them of it. It is for their own benefit,” the Prime Minister said.
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