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I WISH TO COMMEND your editorial offering on Monday April 18, PSV Drivers Must Play By The Rules.
The privately-owned sector of this business is motivated and driven solely by commercial profit. In deep contrast is the state-owned sector which carries a social and national development burden.
The private public service vehicle (PSV) operators have reached the stage where they have assumed the colours of bullies. Hear them: “Give us back Tudor Street; lower our fines; give us the short lucrative routes; allow us to stop anywhere; be satisfied with our bad manners and loud vulgar music; accept our musty and uncouth hygiene, and allow us to corrupt your young children or we will strike.”
All of this horrifying conduct is why order has to be roped around this beast. The minister must never succumb to their blackmail.
I therefore seek to promulgate a new type of thinking with regards to public transport in Barbados. I recommend a fare-free public transportation system. Others have floated ideas of government/private sector marriage or breaking up of routes to a higher cost to the user. These ideas carry benefits to the private sector primarily and are not productive in a social democracy.
Public transport affects commerce, education, societal order, rural development, external investment, the environment and national expenditure. This is our chance to construct a public transportation system that drives the orderly and beneficial development of the above-mentioned strands of Barbados.
If we were to put the National Insurance Scheme in the mirror, we would see a reflection of how to finance such a parallel for transportation free to the daily user, but bringing tremendous benefits to the country. Individual contributions, when taken together and financially managed, can secure the future of the nation.
Connor Beaton of the Scottish Socialist Party argues for fare-free transportation in Scotland. He says: “There is a strong economic, social and environmental case for adopting this policy throughout the country. There is also precedent from successful fare-free public transportation schemes in parts of France, Germany, Belgium and Estonia as well far-flung cities in China and the United States. We have evidence of the policy’s affordability and benefit.”
In Barbados this system will quench the capitalists’ thirst for monetary profit that drives part of the disorder. If they wish to continue charging fares and blood-letting on the routes, they are free to do so and compete with the fare-free system at their peril. Then they may strike at will. Room can be made for their participation in accordance with the stipulated stringent guidelines.
Effective schedules will accrue to the travelling public. All day we now see private buses chasing after or ahead of state-owned buses on the same route on the same schedule in order to get passengers. The fare-free system will produce smooth synergies.
There are route taxis like sardine tins all over this country. Belching black smoke and driven by road hogs, they present enormous pollution, congestion and disorder on our landscape. Comparably it is cheaper to use a bigger bus and haul larger volumes of people in comfort. Here is a chance to attract more people to put away cars and use efficient fare-free mass transportation.
Equitable access to all parts of the country is desirable. Currently, only the state system will maintain good late-night schedules to country areas. Additionally, low-income earners must be able to cheaply access transportation to and from work. It is generally accepted that they form the nucleus of the labour force. A sound workforce attracts investments.
Public transportation must never be hijacked by the likes who run the PSV sector. Let us implement real change that will impact positively on societal development.
The machines and mechanisms of state are prime tools for shaping the future of the nation. It cannot be done by greedy, reckless, lawless and indifferent capitalists. Public transportation is a vital day-to-day tool of nation-building. I shudder when I hear the demands being extorted of the minister by these selfish, ego-totting state vandals. Let them strike but respond with a fare-free public transportation system.
– LAVONE SOBERS