Taxi operators feeling the pinch

The vexing National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), along with increases in petrol prices, is hitting taxi operators in Bridgetown where it hurts most – in their pockets.

Several taxi drivers spoke to Barbados TODAY this week on condition that their given names not be used. They described a tale of woe stemming from the steep hike in the NSRL from two per cent to ten per cent and increases in the excise duty on petrol.

They said they had already been struggling, and their ability to make a living took a further hit with the Government-imposed taxes and levies, which took effect on July 1.

“The recent increase of taxes affects public service vehicle operators because the cost and standard of living has increased and not our fare rates,” lamented one taxi driver who gave his name as Jack.

To emphasize the difficulty they were having in attracting business, one driver explained he had been on the job since 8 a.m. and had not had a single fare six hours later.

Several of them said they had similar experiences.

“There are many days you come out here and go home without a job,” one taxi man known as Mike told Barbados TODAY.

“This happens daily. The only time we can get a little relief is when there is a cruise ship,” added another, who preferred to be called Goose.

The drivers said the high number of vehicles operating from the Bridgetown stand contributed in part to their difficulty in attracting work.

However, they left no doubt about the impact of the taxes.

“The Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley is issuing too many licences to PSV operators and inflating the system. The new [operators] want their money that they paid for the vehicles right now, resulting in overcharges.

“We are getting [fewer] sales because of the recent Budget, as fewer people are wanting a taxi,” Mike said.

The operators also said the NSRL had done more than just affect their normal fares.

One driver who wanted to be referred to as Tall Man said he had begun to seek financing to replace his aging car before Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced the measures.

He told Barbados TODAY the cost of the vehicle climbed by $16,000 after the Budget measures took effect, throwing the proverbial spanner in the works.

“I was going to buy a hybrid. Before the Budget, the car was [quoted] at $98,000, and after the Budget the finance company along with the agents said that the cost on my car would rise with the [NSRL] increase, as much as $16,000 or more. I normally use $16,000 to license and road tax my vehicle,” he lamented.

Operators are allowed by law to purchase a taxi duty-free every five years. However, the taxi drivers are crying foul over the requirement that they must purchase a replacement vehicle before they are allowed to sell the one in use.

It was a concern shared by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley who had been meeting with the taxi drivers.

“How many small men do you and I know that can afford to go and pick up money to purchase a new car, even if it is duty free? All through the years, people sold the taxi that they have to get the money to buy the new one,” she said.

Despite the additional burdens brought on by the new budgetary measures, the operators who spoke to Barbados TODAY said they were not planning to raise fares because they are aware it was tough for everyone.

4 Responses to Taxi operators feeling the pinch

  1. Jai Khan
    Jai Khan July 14, 2017 at 7:42 am

    These drivers in that stand will feel more than the pinch, their nasty behaviour and foul fishmarket swearing that lights up the area of Upper Broad Street causing concern to locals and visitors alike, I’m surprised that anybody drives with them, total disgrace to an industry where the country’s first point ambassadors should be found.

    Reply
  2. Errol Rayside
    Errol Rayside July 14, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Shut it down get DEM out.

    Reply
  3. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce July 14, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I have no sympathy for them. They take the Arthur Bliss. If bus fare is two dollars one way from Oistins to Speightstown, why charge $20 from Musty supermarket Oistins to the Butterfly Beach Hotel? Then got the nerve to expect a tip. Not only that some charge in US dollars doubling (BDS dollar) set fare. Majority of tourists including expats that visit BIM are ordinary hard working people and pay bills just like wunna. Our bills are higher than yours and if one wants to encourage the average tourist to spend you have to be honest and fair. If one came to England you’re well looked after. We know family and friends that came to the UK on holiday and took their holiday money home didn’t have to spend a pence and it did not bothered us as long as they enjoyed their holiday. The British Barbadians (that expats that leave BIM before Independence) were very generous. Those days have come to an end. The Ripped off, greedy guts taxi drivers need a reality check! Barbados is NOT the only holiday destination. Wunna gine suck salt, if wunna don’t change wunna ways. Hard times coming not just in Bim other parts of the world and by the looks of things it’s going to be there for a long time.

    Reply
  4. Donild Trimp July 15, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    These taxi drivers are exhibiting the Bajan entitlement mentality and to be honest, they overcharge visitors to the island.

    Implementing the levy is good policy. Time to bring an end to the entitlement culture.

    If these taxi drivers and owners cannot make it in the business, let them find something else to do.

    Survival of the fittest is the order of the day and those who want to survive will do so, those who want to complain and act like crybabies will go the route of the dinosaurs.

    Enough is enough.

    Reply

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