As Government moves towards the establishment of a Mass Transit Authority (MTA), public service vehicle (PSV) owners and operators may find themselves digging deeper into their pockets.
That’s because the administration has put forward a proposal to charge route taxis a daily rate, similar to what obtains in the Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP).
However, the suggestion has been met with stern resistance from operators and owners.
Government’s initial intentions were revealed during a meeting last Sunday with permit holders, which was attended by Minister of Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill, Government’s Chief Economic Advisor Ambassador Dr Clyde Mascoll and Chairman of the Transport Authority Adrian Grant.
As part of the new strategy, PSVs will be divided into three zones.
Zone 1 will include mostly Christ Church, St Michael, St James and St Peter; Zone 2 will include St George, St Philip, St Thomas, while Zone 3 will feature St John, St Joseph, St Andrew and St Lucy.
According to the new Revenue Raising System (RRS) which was explained by Mascoll, PSVs plying the routes in Zone 1 and Zone 2 will be charged 12.5 per cent during the peak hours of 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and nine per cent during the off-peak hours of 9:01 a.m. to 1:59 p.m.
PSVs operating in Zone 3 will only pay 10 per cent during peak hours.
Mascoll revealed that under the new system, PSVs would be allowed to purchase duty-free vehicles.
Additionally, some of the monies collected would be held by Fund Access which would be allowed to provide loans to PSV owners.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, communications and marketing officer of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), Mark Haynes said he was not surprised by the push back from owners and operators.
He said the opposition should be expected as it presented further financial challenges for them.
“I am not surprised that some of the workers are not going to be amenable to this proposition because they will see it as an additional cost to them which will inhibit their daily takings.
“I don’t think the Government is going to get a national buy-in from the PSV sector in relation to this because they will see it just as an additional financial burden,” Haynes admitted.
While noting that he was not present at the meeting, Haynes questioned if the idea was properly thought out.
He said with a project of this magnitude he believed a committee should have been established to oversee its rollout and that officials from both AOPT and the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (APTO) should have been asked to sit on it.
“There should have been a national committee to look at this whole exercise given that this is going to form part of Barbados’ landscape, in terms of national transportation and I think it would be prudent and rather democratic to have a national committee which would be apprised of all of the details in relation to the mass transit,” Haynes said.
“I think Government dropped the ball not to have formed a national committee and asked us to be part of that committee before this programme is rolled out in its entirety.”
When contacted, chairman of APTO Kenny Best declined to comment as he said the matter was still under discussion.
However, one irate PSV owner who asked to remain anonymous said he saw no advantages to paying Government’s fees.
He complained that for years taxi operators had been allowed to purchase duty-free vehicles without paying additional fees.
The annoyed owner suggested that Government simply saw PSVs as “cash cows” and was interested in filling its own coffers.
Efforts to reach Minister Gooding-Edghill for comment proved unsuccessful up to press time.
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