Thursday, April 25, 2024

EDITORIAL: More to PSVs’ role than uniforms

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IT IS ALMOST amusing that getting the majority of workers on public service vehicles (PSVs) to wear a uniform is being heralded as a major achievement.
That a large number of them still fail to comply with road traffic regulations remains the real concern.
These minibus and ZR van drivers and conductors have long behaved with total disregard for law and order and have been allowed to get away with it. Moral suasion has been meaningless, given the numerous public appeals for them to change their ways.
The list of complaints against them is like a long and winding road. They stop when and where they feel like; overtake as they want; play loud and vulgar music and often drive outside of the speed limit. It is common to see them intrude from secondary roads ahead of vehicles on main roadways.
Over the years, some owners and operators have made all sorts of lame excuses for the excesses. The public has grown to expect unruly behaviour from drivers, and often some passengers encourage their infractions all because it serves commuters’ needs.
That PSVs provide a valuable service to the country is undeniable. They fill a void which the state-owned Transport Board could never satisfy. These private operators are in many respects shrewd business people; they understand risks, which they readily take purely for the financial return.
There will undoubtedly be greater demands made of the privately owned minibuses and ZRs in the future, given the transformation that must be undertaken at the Transport Board. While Government has an obligation to provide some level of public bus transportation, it can no longer afford to spend the sums it has previously granted this service. Even though the Transport Board is a not-for-profit operation, its losses have simply been too great.
In the prevailing economic difficulties which have severely impacted many people who depend on the public transportation system, it is very unlikely that the Freundel Stuart administration will want commuters to carry the true economic cost for using the Transport Board’s service. So, no to any major fare increase.
This means the privately owned operators will have a greater role to play. More will have to be brought into the system and those operating as pirates will have to be given an opportunity to operate within the law, providing safety and security for commuters. It is for Government to ensure that these small business operators meet all their statutory obligations.
In the future, much of the attention must be beyond the wearing of uniforms. It must be on regulation and enforcement. The Transport Authority must do its work, so too must the police and the law courts. The PSVs must adhere to the laws, but, more importantly, display decency and show respect.

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