If left up to Minister of Education Ronald the days of the so-called “ZR culture” would be history.
That’s because, he believes that they should no longer be allowed to service the travelling public due to safety concerns.
While he said it wasn’t an attack on the operators of the vehicles, he suggested that, with some incentives from Government, they migrate into larger vehicles that service a minimum seating capacity of 30 people.
Jones’ comments were made during debate on the Committee of Supply-Supplementary Estimates No. 18 2017-2018 in the House of Assembly Friday.
Although he did not give many details about the state support that would serve to incentivise PSV operators to switch to larger vehicles, the minister did suggest the migration could be done over a three to five-year period.
“Any vehicle with one door outside of the door at the front, to me is a hazardous vehicle and I do not know if they were ideally made, outside of the hectic spaces of Hong Kong, to move people. I really don’t know that.
“I keep saying to the Lord, ‘Lord I pray that you would give me the capacity to at least be able to even ride a bicycle so that I don’t have to take a ZR’. Every morning I get up I almost make that similar prayer. . . You have to migrate and the state has to provide the incentives for the migration from these 12/14 seated things that we have to be shifting about left and right, half the people getting off for you to get out, if you are in the back you have to climb over the shoulders and the backs of people; but give you a vehicle which can carry 30 or more with two doors for passenger exit,” Jones further suggested
President of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), Morris Lee welcomed Jones’ suggestion as an option. He explained the midi type of transport is bigger than the route taxi but smaller than a mini van and seats 24. Additionally, it was equipped with double rear wheels which means it is a much safer vehicle than the present ZR in terms of public transport.
Nonetheless, Lee believed that an upgrade should be optional as since not every owner may be able to afford such, and he did voice some reservations about the promise of incentives promises by past and present governments that were long overdue.
“I commend the minister for waking up to see these incentives are necessary because I cannot think of any industry in Barbados that is more loyal to the future of Barbados than the PSVs. The reason I say that is the transport board has less than 50 buses on the road at any time, 700 plus PSVS are on the roads as we speak and if we had to withdraw service the country would shut down and therefore I am saying where the minister is concerned it is a good idea, but I would like to suggest that the upgrade would be optional because of the fact even if the incentives were given and that you would get the duty off, there would still be challenges for some to purchase the vehicles,” Lee said. (SDB Media)