Free us! Gov’t pulling PSV fare strings too long
River van stand
The members of the Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) community want to be in charge of regulating their fares.
Seeking to be the master of their fate in this respect, Head of the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael told Loop News:
“Right now the fares are regulated by government. The only body who regulates it is government. If we are private sector right, and we don’t operate with a social responsibility like government, we are of the view that we should be able to regulate our own fare.
“I believe the time has come for us to seriously look at that.”
President of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) Morris Lee said that the associations have been asking for this move for over 10 years now, but he lamented that the “legal wheels in Barbados turn a lot slower than they should.”
“We would be happy to be self-regulated. It is something that we have put before government for over a decade now, but the problem is legislation, because the government would have to essentially legislate it to become law.”
He said that the quest of the organisations is be structured like the Bar Association, where they too could regulate themselves and punish members accordingly as well. Disappointed, he said, “that [the Bar's structure] is so because they have been given the mandate but we have not.”
Lee said that as it stands control over who and what as it relates to PSVs and the quality of service, will continue to be lacking.
At present because they are not self-regulated, he lamented, “if we get a complaint about a driver, the most we can do is speak to the owner and the insurance, then that driver can still leave driving for owner A, and go and work for owner B. But if we are structured from the legislature that would give us the opportunity to have a database where we can root out a lot of the people who are essentially giving the industry a bad name.
“But at this stage, we can’timpose no penalties, punishments, fees, fines or nothing so. The only thing an owner can do with a driver is to fire him, but that does not stop the driver from going and work for somebody else. That is what we would be very happy to have.”
At this rate and with things set as they are, Lee said that everyone feels the pinch, not just the PSV owners.
“At the end of the day, the public suffers because they don’t get the quality service which they deserve. The owners suffer because they have no control and essentially the government suffers too, because they then have to use precious resources from the police force to more or less bring some kind of common sense to the whole scenrio.”
Therefore, Raphael said that though the question and discussion which is on the lips of many, is if PSVs should be able to regulate their own fares because they are calling for a $1 increase, he wonders if people understand what the limitation in regard to regulation, is really doing to the sector.
He said that the operators are not saying that everybody or every PSV owner should charge what they want, but regulate it to a tune that is agreeable and agreed by government and the associations, especially following the new hike in taxes which will impact gasoline and diesel and the importation of new vehicles or parts.
“Say for example if we want to move to $3, that PSV’s can now charge $3 because they are able to regulate their own fare, but governed by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC).”