Over the last week, there has been significant discussion regarding the Transport Board in the media and on the lips of many Barbadians. Today I want to join the discussion on the same entity but not on the UCAL or the retrenched workers’ issues.
Often, if there is any criticism mentioned about an organisation, there are a set of people who readily brand all within that organisation as the same. This attitude is simply wrong and shouldn’t be encouraged or tolerated. What I am about to share with you will highlight some of the poor professional practices of some drivers of Transport Board buses.
Two weeks ago while travelling away from Welches in St Michael, I approached the Rubis gas station in My Lord’s Hill and had to stop behind a Transport Board bus because it was allowing a car to exit on to the same road. Two elderly men, directly opposite the bus on the other side of the road by the gas station, made their interest in catching the bus known by waving and shouting to tell the bus driver to wait.
A car stopped and the elderly men crossed the road. Would you believe that as soon as the elderly men got on the sidewalk at the back of the bus, the bus driver drove off? One of the men stood in disbelief with his hands akimbo and stared at the bus as it moved away.
Since I was behind the bus, I can’t definitively say that the bus driver did or didn’t see the men. However, since I have seen similar incidents like this towards the elderly before, I am inclined to believe it was purposely done.
On numerous occasions, I have observed these drivers leaving elderly persons, especially those who walk with the assistance of a cane, stick or walker. Most times I have seen it, the old people are at the bus stops alone. I have also seen the 11 p.m. bus to Bridgetown leave people at bus stops in what I assume to be a desire to get to town as quickly as possible. Where possible, I would stop or turn around to see if I can help those persons with a ride; sometimes taking them to their destination and then rerouting to mine.
Minibus drivers are just as guilty. A minibus I was travelling in stopped at a bus stop in Sargeant’s Village. The conductor got out and an elderly lady with three bags of groceries stood to board the bus and requested assistance. The conductor told the lady: “Not today granny, wait pun d blue bus” and told the driver to drive.
A friend of mine shared this experience earlier this week.
“So I take the Sam Lord’s Castle school bus home this evening as I have done numerous times before. This bus picks up paying passengers along the South Coast and this evening was no different. The driver collected passengers at Harts Gap, Hastings, St Lawrence Main Road and Oistins (bus stop by Super Centre or Massy). However, my dismay started when he stopped at the bus stop by Granny’s opposite the bus port as some children disembarked. A crippled woman was struggling to stop the bus. A police officer saw her under duress and rushed to her aid; bless his soul.
“The bus driver didn’t want to open the door. When he saw the police he said: ‘Dis is de school bus, she cahn get in!’ At first I was confused so I had to look around and counted nine people not wearing school uniform and eight of whom were not teachers. The police officer asked the driver if the bus was not going Sam Lord’s Castle to which the driver said, “Yeah, but dis is de school bus, let she ketch the next bus!” And shut the door. Well, on we went until I saw a woman stop the bus at the bottom of Thornbury Hill and the driver stopped, the woman got in, paid, collected her ticket and the driver moved on.”
I ask the Transport Board to please let their drivers know that the elderly are a part of our society and should be treated with equal respect, dignity and honour.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.