Overhaul on the agenda
THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM is of primary importance to a nation’s development.
Hundreds of Barbadians can attest to this because as far back as the 1960s they travelled to Britain to help lay the foundation for what is now British Transport, one of the world’s most sophisticated transportation systems.
The Government-run Transport Board and the numerous public service vehicle (PSV) companies here have been taking care of our public transportation needs.
Although regulating the PSV sector has posed problems for Government over the years, the viability of the Transport Board needs to be re-examined.
It was therefore heartening to hear Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce in the House of Assembly last Tuesday reveal Government’s intention to look again at the operations of the cash-strapped entity.
In most countries today, public transport is controlled by private concerns and not by the central Government.
A privately run entity is not that much of a long shot for Barbados, since local entrepreneurs have shown that once overheads are controlled, this area can be extremely viable.
Local credit unions, which have no problems with liquidity even in these tough economic times, should probably move away from a focus on financial companies and concentrate on the local commercial service industry in terms of new investment opportunities.
The National Insurance Scheme, which has shown it is not bashful in making investments in Barbados, should also consider buying or partially funding local public transportation.
But Government’s hands are tied in the matter of privatization now that transportation is free to schoolchildren and since a private entity may not want to maintain such freeness.
When all is said and done, Barbadians may have to bear with the Transport Board’s continuing financial losses for at least a few more years.
But it is clear an overhaul is on the agenda.