As the Chief Operations Officer of the Barbados Transport Board, I was thrilled to be a part of the realization of a vision that goes beyond the realm of transportation. On 18th January 2024, we joined with other partners to highlight a branding addition to the message of sustainable development goals, and we did so on a vehicle that can be powered by renewable energy.
The Sustainable Development Goals, as outlined by the United Nations, serve as a compass for global efforts to address some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. The design on the bus serves as a visual reminder of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each represented with pride. From eradicating poverty to ensuring gender equality, from promoting clean energy to fostering responsible consumption – this bus encapsulates our pledge to contribute meaningfully to a better world.
We invite our passengers, partners, and stakeholders to join us in this collective effort towards sustainable development. By choosing to travel with us, passengers are not only reaching their destination; they are actively participating in a movement that aims to create positive change.
(see press release below from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office at the launch of the branded bus)
The Barbados Transport Board now has 10 additional electric buses, which brings its electric vehicle fleet to 59.
The buses, which were procured under the Ministry of Energy and Business’ Sustainable Energy Investment Programme (Smart Fund II), were taken from the Port of Bridgetown to the Weymouth Depot, last Friday.
Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Business, Keisha Reid, explained that the Sustainable Energy Investment Programme is geared towards implementing a number of renewable energy and energy efficient initiatives to help the public sector become more energy efficient and sustainable, as well as enhance Barbados’ competitive position.
“It also seeks to reduce Barbados’ fossil fuel usage through the piloting of fully battery electric buses as part of the fleet of the Barbados Transport Board. We have purchased 10 electric buses – five large buses and five medium-sized buses to manoeuvre on our smaller roads.
“Electric vehicles offer an opportunity for Government to significantly reduce its consumption of fossil fuels for transportation and meet overall policy objectives. This is especially true of high-use vehicles, such as the buses of the Transport Board,” Ms. Reid said.
The Sustainable Energy Investment Programme (Smart Fund II) is being co-financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through a US$30 million loan, and a European Union (EU) grant of €13.26 million.
IDB Country Representative in Barbados, Viviana Alva Hart, said the procurement of the buses showed Government’s commitment to building a greener future.
Ms. Hart continued: “The addition of these electric buses is about not only increasing the use of new technologies, but also demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Barbados to building a greener and more sustainable future for the country.
“The IDB is proud to be a regional leader in decarbonisation, including transportation through electromobility. Through the financing and support of this project, we continue to invest in the environmental sustainability of the Caribbean, fostering innovation, and creating new opportunities for the local workforce.“
An EU official stated that the European Union was honoured to partner with the Ministry of Energy and Business and the IDB in supporting the Transport Board in the further electrification of its bus fleet.
The spokesperson added: “The EU commends the work being done by the Government of Barbados, which has become a leader in the region in the electrification of its bus fleet. The inclusion of these 10 buses to the existing electric fleet will allow the Government to further reduce its consumption of fossil fuels in the transportation sector, while enhancing energy resilience in the public sector.”
The official from the Barbados Transport Board stated: “In 2019, when the decision to purchase electric buses was made, it was new technology and we were all learning how this would affect the public transport industry in Barbados. What was not at that time envisioned was how it would contribute to the country’s position as it relates to addressing the issues associated with climate change.”
The representative continued: “The Government’s commitment to achieving sustainable energy, and by extension the Transport Board’s efforts in creating an operational environment that utilises as much as possible clean energy, is seen here with the addition of these 10 buses. The Barbados Transport Board is pleased to have been one of the recipients of funding from the SMART Energy Fund that allows us to continue to work towards that goal.”
The Ministry of Energy and Business contracted Megapower Limited in a joint venture with BYD de Panamá S.A. to import the buses, which were manufactured in China.
Commuters making use of the Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP) are being encouraged to know their rights. This is from Chief Operations Officer of the Transport Board, Lynda Holder who stressed that persons over the age of 65 years old and school children in uniform are exempt from paying bus fare on board TAP vehicles. She further emphasized that it was against the rules of the Transport Board for persons to be charged based on the number of packages they take on board.
Mrs Holder said it had been brought to their attention that some TAP operators were charging persons who are over 65 years of age. She explained that by law, persons in this category are allowed to travel free of charge on board any public service vehicle operated by the Transport Board once a valid identification card is produced. She added that the same rule applies to school children, once the students are in uniform and/or produce a valid form of ID, they are not required to pay bus fare.
In addition, members of The Barbados Police Service along with staff of the Transport Board are also allowed to ride free of charge on TAP vehicles, once they produce the relevant identification. “The TAP operator is supposed to take note of the commuters on their way bills, submit this information to the Transport Board and then we, in turn, will invoice the relevant ministries,” Mrs Holder disclosed.
Commuters have also complained about being charged for the number of packages that they take on the bus. Mrs Holder once again emphasizes that this is against the rules and policies of the Transport Board.
“What we ask passengers to do, out of consideration for the size of the vehicle, [is] that they be considerate to their fellow travellers, and if you have more than two or three packages, you find a way of storing them closer to you to allow other persons to be able to access either the seats or passageway for safe travel,” she said.
The Chief Operations Officer said despite the complaints, there has been positive feedback about the Transport Augmentation Programme.
She noted that many of the operators are courteous and have been adequately servicing their routes. The TAP has also improved the Transport Board’s ability to meet its customer demand through the provision of additional units, Holder said.
“The programme was implemented to assist the Transport Board in covering the areas and routes that they could not cover because of their limitations” she explained.
TAP comprises sub-contracted public service vehicles, which operate under the rules and regulations of the Transport Board. (KS/PR/MTWW)
The St. Andrew’s Church bus will return to its original route through Bawdens, St. Andrew, starting Sunday, March 19.
Word of this from the Chief Operations Officer of the Transport Board, Lynda Holder, following a final test run of a bus crossing over Bawdens temporary by-pass road today, Tuesday, March 14.
Also, on-site to observe the test were other officials from the Transport Board including the Terminal Manager of the Speightstown Terminal, Mr George Denny; and Terminal Manager (ag) of the Princess Alice Terminal, Mr Hartley Davis; and the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources (MTWW), who is also the Parliamentary Representative for St. Andrew, Dr Romel Springer.
(L to R: Dr Romel Springer, Lynda Holder, Hartley Davis and George Denny)
In April 2022, the St. Andrew’s Church bus service had to be re-routed after the Bawdens Bridge was deemed unsafe and consequently closed. A temporary by-pass road was put in its place, however, that road was washed away following heavy rains late last year. A sturdier, more durable temporary by-pass road has been constructed which will allow for heavy-duty vehicles and buses to travel across it.
Mrs Holder outlined that following discussions with the MTWW and the representative for the area, the Transport Board was pleased to reintroduce the St. Andrew Church bus service to the residents of St. Andrew.
She explained that due to the closure of Bawdens Bridge, some bus services to that parish were extended and re-routed. “The St. Andrew’s Church bus serviced one end of the Bawdens Bridge, while the Shorey Village bus serviced the other end. However, with the opening up of the temporary road, the St. Andrew’s Church bus can now be realigned to service its original route,” she said, adding that travel time for commuters on the Shorey Village and St. Andrew’s Church routes will now be greatly reduced. More importantly, she added that the Alleyne school bus will also return to its original route, allowing children using that bus to arrive at school in a timelier manner.
Parliamentary Secretary of MTWW, Dr Romel Springer said he was pleased the St. Andrew Church bus was returning to its original route. He pointed out that due to the diversion of the bus route, some residents were forced to walk long distances, sometimes at night, in the dark.
Dr Springer stressed the Ministry had to ensure the safety of vehicles travelling along the temporary by-pass road and disclosed bridge posts were installed as an added safety measure. He explained that the road will also be single-lane, allowing only one vehicle to drive across at a time.
Stressing the by-pass road is a temporary measure, he confirmed MTWW has plans in place for the construction of a permanent bridge at Bawdens. He said finances had already been secured, and a contractor was sourced for the construction of the permanent structure.
Dr Springer said the aim is to complete most of the work by the start of the 2023 rainy season. (KS/PR/MTWW)