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EDITORIAL: PSVs need to step up


BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: PSVs need to step up

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The announcement by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley that his aim is to fully integrate private operators into the national public transport network has returned the public focus to that aspect of daily life in our country.

As we stated before, we support in principle the integration, even if it appears at this time that the private operators are themselves divided on whether that’s want they want for the sector. However, we do share the view of a significant segment of the Barbadian population that our minibus and route taxi operators need to do much more to engender confidence in them as serious players in a vital industry.

With more than 500 vehicles on the roads each day there can be no denying that these operators contribute significantly to commercial life in our country and that every sector would suffer if their services were not available tomorrow. There is also no denying that given national demand the Transport Board will not come close to doing the job alone.

But it is time for these private operators to show Barbadians that they can do more than drive, that they can do more than move commuters from Point A to Point B, that each passenger is a valued client and not just $2 fare. It is time for the operators to demonstrate across the board the level of maturity that reflects the length of time they have been engaged in the game.

We also do not believe that this is a matter that should demand the level of police resources that it has over the years. The sector has to be able to exercise the level of discipline that compels owners to only hire drivers and conductors who put respect for the law above the apparent instinct to “hustle”.

Owners have to take charge of those they employ and let them know they can’t frustrate everyone else on the road by stopping five six times between designated bus stops under the guise that they are helping old people, women with babies, the exposed on rainy days or woman who had been shopping and is now struggling with a dozen bags, etc. The laws exist for a reason and such naked flouting of the rules ought not to be tolerated.

Daily we see ZR and minibus operators chatting away on their cellular phones while driving and changing gears. When you are in control of a van filled with passengers and your phone is in your right hand and the gearstick in your left, with which hand are you holding the steering wheel? When a beer or stout is in your right hand, with which limb do you turn on or off your indicators?

Most Barbadians, including non-commuters, would tolerate an infraction in exceptional circumstances, even as a courtesy to another road user, from these private transport operators, but when a driver racks up infractions by the dozen on a short journey, and the conduct appears common to just about every other operator, the whole sector is then viewed as bad.

Why is it that with well over 120 000 other vehicles on the road, the only persons you consistently encounter who feel duty bound to block traffic while carrying on conversations side by side are among the 500 public service vehicle operators?

So by all means let’s integrate them. But let’s also collectively let them know that integration is a vote of confidence that they can improve, and the only way to repay that confidence is to rise to that much higher standard of service.

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