- Honourable Peter Phillips – Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance
- Associate Pastor- Reverend Movelle Kellman
- Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance- Mr. Mark Cummins
- General Manager of the Transport Board- Ms. Felicia Sue and other members of staff of the Transport Board
- Distinguished members of the Congregation
- Members of the media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a distinct pleasure to address you this morning at the historic Sharon Moravian church and we thank you for allowing us to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the Transport Board in your presence.
It is with much pleasure that I take this opportunity to offer congratulations to the Transport Board as it celebrates another year of supplying public transport to the people of Barbados.
You might be aware that the Transport Board is mandated to service the travelling public by providing public transportation across Barbados as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, within the last few years the Transport Board has experienced a number of challenges but has continued to maintain its core public service objectives in spite of the challenges it has faced. I recently toured the Board with a team and saw first-hand the issues that the management and staff are struggling to overcome. These issues in turn have automatically led to challenges for the travelling public. In speaking with staff and commuters the issues were made even clearer to us. The way forward is for all us to work together.
To address these challenges, the Government of Barbados, led in this instance by myself and the Hon Peter Phillips, have embarked on a number of initiatives with the Transport Board that are intended to bring this institution to the level of excellence previously enjoyed. The end result of these initiatives will be an improvement in its service delivery and a more efficient and accessible transport system for the travelling public. First and foremost is the immediate plan of improving bus availability.
As we all know the Prime Minister, Hon Mia Mottley identified the Transport Board and the return of buses to the roads of Barbados as part of the government’s list of mission critical policies and actions. We have therefore developed a team to work on the repairing of the existing buses and this has been augmented by an extra shift for mechanics. This is slowly showing results and we have seen an increase in the number of buses on our roads in the last three weeks. I have been reliably advised that when school reopens on September 10th, the Transport Board will be ready to meet the demands of the travelling public.
The second part of this initiative is to improve the fleet by purchasing additional clean energy buses. This is the long term plan. It takes a while to build and ship buses to Barbados so we can’t sit back and wait for this to happen. So the immediate plan is the repairs mentioned before.
We have also noted the issues that are being experienced by commuters outside of the extended bus waiting times such as the lack of enough seating in the terminals and the heat. These issues and others such as safety and security at the various locations are also of concern and are being addressed and we should be seeing and experiencing an improvement in these areas in the immediate future.
Collaborative programmes between the government and the people of Barbados are what will be necessary to move us all forward. The Transport Board staff have taken the steps to initiate something of this nature on a small scale with an internal beautification programme being done by the staff to ensure that the places where they spend so much of their time are kept in a specific state. The idea of bringing plants, painting locations and the cleaning of your surroundings are part of a collaborative effort, although on a small scale, that can be used to improve your daily situation and are to be applauded.
Other initiatives include the greater use of technology for both the staff and the commuters. Areas such as being able to track when a bus has left a terminal and the ability to connect with personnel at the Transport Board are among those initiatives. As we have all heard “there is an app for that”, these will also be explored. In keeping with the technology the Transport is also exploring the use of a smart card system which may be topped up as is done with your mobile phone.
But we must also say that the government is also actively working on improving the revenue generating capacity of the Transport Board. All areas must be explored as the generation of revenue is critical to the survival of this entity. Therefore, the regular route network must be looked in terms of the schedules to maximise not only ridership but by extension revenue. Also the marketing or commercial section such as the charters and advertising sections as well as the booths at the various locations must be allowed to grow. The funds which can possibly be generated from these areas are needed to supplement what the government will be doing.
I wish to express my thanks to the hardworking staff for their commitment, dedication and perseverance. In addition, the tremendous assistance provided by key stakeholders has been important in ensuring that the Transport Board reached this milestone.
In closing I offers congratulations again, on behalf of the Government of Barbados and on my own behalf, to the Transport Board for its role in the economic and social development of Barbados and wish it continued success in the future.
Dr. the Honourable William Duguid, J.P., M.P.
Minister of Transport Works & Maintenance