Thursday, April 25, 2024

One PSV side happy, the other waiting

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by SHERRYLYN A. TOPPIN sherrylynclarke@nationnews.com

ONE PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLE BODY is happy, while the other is cautious in the wake of Government’s announcement that bus fares will be increased.

During Monday’s presentation of the Estimates in the House of Assembly, Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid said bus fares would be going up, although he did not say by how much.

Public relations officer with the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT), Mark Haynes, said it was one of the measures they had proposed to Government and the increase would be welcomed.

“We cannot say what the amount will be, but whatever comes, the sector welcomes it. We think that given the costs over the years of running the old fleet of vehicles, the sector deserves an increase,” Haynes said.

However, interim chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO), Morris Lee, adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

Not specific

“Our initial reaction is that the industry should not comment too much on yesterday’s development because the quantum in relation to the bus fare is not specific, unlike all the other bus fare increase announcements over the years,” Lee said.

“The industry is mindful of the fact that the Transport Board is currently feverishly moving forward to get electric buses and retrofit the existing buses that they have. We believe that bus fare increase is geared more towards the Transport Board activity than towards the private sector. Until we find out exactly what the specificity is in terms of the fare increase, it doesn’t make a lot of wisdom in really commenting on it.”

Duguid said while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had recommended bumping the fare from $2 to $5, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration had not decided whether it would increase by $1.50 or $2.

The last increase came in January 2011 when then Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced it was going up by 50 cents.

Made a plea

In October 2017, AOPT head Roy Raphael made a plea for an increase to $3 but said at the time it might not be enough and $5 would be more feasible.

Meanwhile, the United Progressive Party said in a release yesterday that since the IMF always recommended a bus fare increase, the announcement came as no surprise, but it was more for an already burdened taxpayer.

“Members of Parliament can hang their head in shame for endorsing this proposed burden on the already suffering average citizen. Since coming to office, the [Mia] Mottley Administration has only given Barbadians increased taxation, resulting in a higher cost of living. Such an increase will place yet another massive burden on the poorest, many of whom have just been laid off by this BLP [Barbados Labour Party] administration. This, while taxpayers continue to endure the cost of a larger Government and its consultants.”

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