Not ready for park-and-ride

Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce, believes a park-and-ride system will save money on petrol, reduce congestion on the roads, and make the Transport Board a more viable entity through revenues earned from the system.

The minister should be advised that park-and-ride works best with monorail, subway or ferry systems where the train or boat is not impeded by the flow of traffic. It makes scheduled and designated stops at stations along its route. Our physical planning has evolved so haphazardly over the past 50 years that there is little room left for a subway or monorail systems to feed the areas that need it most – but it can be done. In Barbados we have narrow, cramped roads that cannot accommodate a designated bus lane to allow for unimpeded flow, thereby avoiding the traffic jams.

We complained about a few flyovers along the ABC Highway, citing aesthetic considerations but have no problem littering the same highway from our vehicles. I would therefore go for the above ground monorail system in preference to a subway because of its: 1. cost effectiveness 2. adaptability and flexibility 3. eco-friendliness 4. swiftness of travel, and 5. safety.

A ferry system would only best serve passengers on the south and west coasts where the waters are calm, and would virtually eliminate usage by persons living in central and eastern parishes.

I therefore propose a monorail system radiating from near Bridgetown to three points – north to Speightstown, south to airport/Six Roads, and east to Horse Hill/Welchman Hall; or other suitable points in between. The routes need not follow a linear trajectory but more so to be accessible to the highly populated communities along the way, or strategic points for park-and-ride.

Such a project could be conceptualised to be implemented over 10 to 15 years in a phased manner – a major capital works project creating employment for many. What a relaxing ride and aesthetic view in air-conditioned comfort while admiring these hills, fields and ocean scenery on our way to and from work. Now I will park-and-ride for that, but do we have the vision and the will?

For park-and-ride to be effective, the commuter must be assured that they can get to their destination in a timely and cost-effective manner. On a normal day the Transport Board is unable to make any such assurances. Until the Transport Board can implement forward revenue planning to compete aggressively with the privately-owned PSVs and improve its financial fortunes, don’t count on the public to be charitable.

By forward revenue planning I mean, introducing automated advance purchase weekly and monthly passes at a reduced rate, similar to New York City’s Metro Card, with a seamless transfer system if a passenger must take two buses to work. Such measures would certainly improve the cash flow and financial fortunes of the Transport Board. Why hasn’t those proposals been implemented? I think I know the answer.

— Carl Harper

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