PSV operators feel let down by Government
Public service vehicle (PSV) operators say a one-month deadline for the Ministry of Transport to fix outstanding issues has expired and they are still in the dark.
A joint committee, which comprises the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) will be meeting tomorrow to determine their next move.
“We are still awaiting word from the Minister of Transport and the Transport Authority on a number of issues we would have given them a month to address,” Roy Raphael, the AOPT president, told Barbados TODAY.
Back in September, PSV operators had threatened to pull their services to force authorities to address a range of concerns, including high court fines and insurance costs, inadequate routes, as well as poor conditions in bus terminals. They have also been calling for an increase in bus fares or duty-free concessions.
Protest action was however averted after talks with Minister of Transport Michael Lashley and officials from the Transport Authority.
While Raphael says they have shelved plans to press for a hike in bus fares, they are still anxious for authorities to shed light on the other issues.
“Some of the issues are being resolved,” he said citing work underway at the River Van stand.
“We saw some work started [but] nobody has contacted our organization [AOPT] to inform them the work have started and what they would have done,” he complained.
Raphael said lighting remained a major concern for both operators and commuters using the Speighstown and Oistins terminals.
“After 6 p.m. you cannot go into the Van Stand unless your safety is at risk. We believe the Transport Authority has a responsibility for terminals and also the safety of the commuters.”
The AOPT head also said his members were anxious to get a response on a recommendation for PSVs to be given licences to operate on new routes, including Six Roads to Warrens, Bridgetown to Sea View, St James, and Hillaby to Oistins.
“We are still waiting to see if they would allow the PSVs to go on [the new routes]. The fact is some of the popular routes, such as Silver Sands and Silver Hill [Christ Church] are no longer profitable because of the high number of PSVs and ZRs servicing these areas. We are asking the Transport Authority to give us a six-month trial to operate in these new areas.”
Meanwhile, the grouping is gearing up for the integration of the public and private transport service, which will begin on December 1.
However, Raphael said while PSV owners and operators were fully on board with the initiative, there were still some issues to be ironed out.
“We would have clearly endorsed the integration of the public transport. We feel it is a very good thing. But I believe that the committee, which was set up to look at the integration, should also incorporate the representative from the joint committee of PSVs. We are still awaiting a meeting with the Ministry of Transport to update us on where we are now.”