Transport bored

by Neville Clarke

No way! Not interested in buying those “aged” buses!

That was the response given by a number of bus drivers employed by the Transport Board when Barbados TODAY asked them if they would take up the challenge to become entrepreneurs.

One bus driver who asked not to be identified said: “People make those statements to test the workers’ intelligence. Privatisation of the Transport Board is out of the question. If you borrow money from a financial institution and cannot make it back the business is dead and you are dead.”

Another bus driver who also spoke on condition of anonymity argued that an individual goes into business to make a profit.

He maintained that if the buses were sold to the bus drivers even pensioners would have to pay.

In addition, he argued that the bus fares would have to be increased and Barbados would have to return to stage fares.

The bus driver pointed out that maintenance of the present fleet was very high with one wheel carrying a price tag of $600-$800.

Looking at another aspect of maintenance cost, he noted that road tax on a bus ranged from $1000 to $1,500.

“They would have to change the fleet before I think about taking up that offer. No worker that I know wants a unit from the current fleet. The life span of a bus is 12 years. The Caio buses were built in 1991 and the Transport Board bought a number of them in 1997,” the bus driver said.

Stressing that a bus driver would be unable to establish a viable business in the current climate, he noted that there were 100 ZRs on the lucrative Silver Sands route and an additional 10 minibus licences have been issued on the Oistins route.

He suggested that the Licensing Authority should desist from issuing additional permits for the lucrative routes.

“Investing in Transport Board buses is a waste of time. Any government that privatises the Transport Board would lose the general election because transportation is a social service. Sensible bus drivers would not put money in Transport Board buses,” the bus driver said.

No wage increase

Noting that an earlier attempt at empowering the workers at the Transport Board had fallen flat, the bus driver said the workers of the workshop who had invested their money in United Commercial Autoworks Ltd were yet to benefit from any dividends on their investment. In addition he pointed out that the workers have not received a wage increase over the past eight years.

A young bus driver bemoaned the fact that the Transport Board was established over 55 years ago, and they have to be making representation at this stage of its history for a pension scheme and gratuity benefits plan to be put in place.

Despite this, he noted that on an annual basis the Barbados Workers’ Union receives more than $250,000 in union fees from the 600 workers employed at the board.†

One bus driver said he would buy one of the smaller Hino buses and he would have to be given a good route by the authorities.

He further stated that he could not maintain one of the bigger buses because most of his earnings would be spent on maintenance.

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