Transportation Crisis: Barbados Government Showing Leadership and Innovation

The new Government of Barbados came into office to find the treasury raped bare by 15 years of borrow and spend to fund a host of costly and incomplete “super projects” that did little for the ordinary citizen or the country. These ill-considered mega-projects range from the Cricket World Cup white elephant stadium to the new flyovers being built by a company with a senior executive that admits to corruptly giving bribes on other bridge projects in the Caribbean.

The previous government seemed incapable of completing anything correctly except media releases. Remember breathaliser legislation? We have a serious problem on this island with collisions caused by drinking and driving, so once a year the Attorney General or Transport Minister would announce that the government was “considering” or “moving towards” implementing laws to stop the carnage on our roads.

But that’s all we got… an annual press conference.

Hopefully the new Thompson government will be able to translate good ideas into action, and action into successful implementation.

But the first step in the process is good ideas – and we believe that Thompson and his Transport Minister have come up with a good idea in shaking up public transit and also their proposal to provide free travel for school children and low-income workers.

In fact, we think that the government should go further and make all public transportation absolutely free to all – citizens and tourists alike.

Friends, wipe the froth from your mouths and hear us out before you start pounding your keyboards…

The BLP’s solution to transportation on Barbados has always been more vehicles on more roads. That was always a flawed philosophy, and especially so in the last few years as oil and construction costs skyrocketed. Not to mention that the more successful that the BLP was in providing new and improved roads, the worse things became as the number of vehicles increased.

This BLP philosophy of more roads and more vehicles is madness – but thank heavens, it looks like the Thompson administration is focusing upon improved and expanded public transit rather than the idea of three cars to every home.

Public transit can never totally replace the personal vehicle, but we can remove thousands of vehicles from our roads every day by providing reliable, safe, cheap and convenient public transit.

Many folks don’t like the ZRs. Aside from the “ZR Culture” that repels rather than attracts customers, there are safety concerns caused by far too many drivers racing to pick up more passengers. But what do we expect when the system is set up in such a way that the faster and more reckless the driver, the more money they make?

The government intends to bring the ZRs into a more controlled and better administered public transportation system. Kill the music, kill the speeding and overcrowding. That will be a good start in encouraging Bajans to park their private vehicles and take public transit most of the time.

By providing free bus transportation to school children and low-income workers, the government accomplishes a few goals. Firstly it provides a small but needed financial break to families and those on the low end of the income scale. Secondly, it will increase the utilisation of public transit and thereby relieve some pressure on the road system.

There is much more that needs to be done to grow the public transit system – perhaps even a light rail train around the circumference of the island.

Picture a Barbados where citizens and visitors can make 75% of their trips via free, safe, convenient and reliable public transportation.

Think about how the world would perceive such a transportation system. We could probably fund much of the cost simply through the savings of not having to continually build new infrastructure to support thousands and thousands of additional cars coming onto the roads every year.

We must make some big changes if we are to survive. Incremental changes will not work.

If Thompson and his government can stay focused on improving public transit and discouraging additional vehicles on our roads, it will benefit everyone far more than the old system of never-ending expansion that is designed to support an obsolete religion that worships the personal auto.

From the Nation News…

Free Ride

IF A PROPOSAL now being studied by the David Thompson administration is approved, thousands of schoolchildren and low-income workers will be able to travel free on the buses.

That would happen, said a highly placed confidential source close to the new Government, if the administration went ahead with a proposal to overhaul the bus transportation system from top to bottom and provide what would virtually be a travel subsidy to some sections of the public, at a time of high oil prices.

At the same time, the privately-owned mini-buses and ZR vans, the source said, would be “fully integrated” into the bus system in a way that would allow their owners to improve service, extend their route structures and make a profit at the same time.

… continue reading this story (link here)


Filed under Barbados, Energy, Environment

93 responses to “Transportation Crisis: Barbados Government Showing Leadership and Innovation

  1. Bimbro

    Sounds an excellent idea but I wonder if free transport would persuade me to abandon my car! To be honest, I doubt it very much but it might be a help! What might be even more useful might be the concept of car-sharing and giving priority to multi-occupancy vehicles! Abolition of the ZR culture must be an absolute, priority!

  2. Partial

    The biggest problem we will have is to try to change the mindset of our people. I know several middle to upper class persons in this country who will simply NOT be seen standing at a bus stop no matter how expensive gas becomes. We travel overseas and take the bus and subway, but here the mentality is that if you are seen at a bus stop, something is wrong. The person seeing hard times, things brown, not working. i know people whose cars were in the work shop and in order to get to work, actually stood and hid at the bus pole so no-one would see them. Quite frankly and very unfortunately, I don’t see that changing.

  3. permres

    An island-wide circular rail system is an excellent idea. The track of the old railway must still be readily available in most parts, closed off portions would have to be renewed, and the circuit would have to be completed around the north. A sea ferry system from Oistins, Holetown and Speightstown to Bridgetown would also be advantageous in reducing the volume of private vehicle commuter traffic on the roads. Private cars yes, but good parking facilities at the railway stations and the ports, along with park-and-ride for the buses. There would be no place for private cars in Bridgetown, the centre would be totally pedestrianised apart from bus lanes, travelling at a very slow pace. All of these things would be great tourist attractions, too.

    Barbados claims to want to be a fully developed nation, but this does not mean more and more cars and fast through-traffic highways. Development is about living life at a pace at which we can relax and feel comfortable. By-passes for villages in the UK enabled the villages to recover some of their old world charm, but Barbados is too small to benefit from that sort of development. We are really just a large village.

    I recently visited St. Kitts, and was impressed with the town centre of Basseterre. It reminded me of small towns in Wales, UK, which would be inundated with tourists for a few brief weeks in the summer, and totally deserted throughout the rest of the year. Tourists and locals were strolling around in the sunshine, it was difficult to tell the difference. Traffic moved at a snail’s pace through the centre streets. I decided to call St. Kitts “little Wales”, especially with its hills!

    As a science teacher in the 1960s in the UK I saw then the growing problem of depleting energy reserves, and was even leaning then towards the abandonment of cars. It didn’t happen, of course, but now it will be forced upon us. BTW, I forgot to mention cycle tracks, even these developed countries are laying them out through town centres and the countryside. Pedestrians and cyclists have as much right to be on the roads as cars, and without sidewalks and cycle tracks, motorrists should not drive as if they owned the road. When the snow was down in the UK, pedestrians might have to walk in the road, and cars gave way. That should happen all of the time. Come on folks, give up your orgy with cars, and move into what it really means to become a developed first-world nation!

  4. Rumplestilskin

    Great article, every post above excellent.

    ‘Partial’ made me smile because that analysis of the Bajan mindset is soooo true. Haha!

    ‘Buh wait…I see de man at de bus stop, like tings hard deng!’

    We are soooo judgemental of individuals.

    ‘Permres’ is right in his suggestions, basic commonsense. Sometimes however, that is too much to ask.

    ‘Permres’, your initial would not be ‘H’ would it?

    If so, RESPECT!

    If not and I am off target, respect also.


  5. Rumplestilskin

    PS – Another mindset to be inculcated is one of respect for others using the free transport and also safety on all such transport, proper policing, including being thrown off for bad behaviour.

  6. Time Will Tell

    In fact, we think that the government should go further and make all public transportation absolutely free to all – citizens and tourists alike.

    To naively imply that our Government can absorb the magnanimous cost of public transportation is so stupid, one wonders if this warrants a response.

    However, in light of my numerous postings advocating the need for statisticians and economist within this administration to correctly reflect the impact of government’s actions I will timidly do so.

    Public transportation represents more than state own busses; it also represents safeguards and assurances that the preservation and access to commerce remains free and fair. Stupid!

    Any developing society must maintain competition. This competition must come from outside/external forces, not government. Therefore the inclusion of the private sector in a large subsidize transportation system will erode the very fundamentals of outside competition.

    Furthermore, EVERY penny invested in the Transport Board is also an indirect investment in social infrastructure, which reverberates at every level of the economy. Amazingly, even if public transportation is partially subsidized, the payoff has a “positive return” this is evident in terms of wages, taxes, services and ancillary spin-offs.

    Governments absorbing of this debt will automatically result in higher taxation and surcharges added to the direct taxation of all, those that use it, and those that don’t.

    Can you think of one develop or developing country that sustains free public transportation that is not a socialist state?…Please do not say Belgium..
    Does the term industrialized mean anything to you?

    This kind of thinking will soon give way to free electricity, water and no land taxes. On reflection, it figures why the sudden push to promote casino gambling in Barbados. The enormous loss of revenue will create a deficit that must be plug….

    As selfish as it sounds individual contributions to the real and increased cost of living is called capitalization. True economic growth is never realized until, its citizen generate the means by which they sustain themselves. Anything other is called socialism….

    Stop spreading these silly false hopes that only intrigue simple minds….

    Milton Friedman must be laughing in his grave………


  7. Fool me once

    How to finance public transportation is easy: charge the car drivers.

    Look at it this way: The last two governments and their cronies wanted to sell more cars and gas. Sir Kyffin Simpson being one of the big benefactors because he owns car dealerships and gas stations. So we got addicted to cars which consume gas we can’t afford and clog the few roads we have which were built to handle 1950’s traffic flow. Notice Sir Kyf and his like never paid for more roads so now we have gridlock that is excrutiating and wasteful. Time and petrol are gobbled up needlessly in this system while people hog whole cars to themselves.

    A system of mass transit and bicycle/moped encouragement (the europeans and chinese do it and the short distances on our island make this ideal) is needed now. No more roads, cars, flyovers needed and petrol need drops off.

    Anyone that drives a car, including govt. has to pay a public transportation tax to pay for mass transit. You can walk anywhere downtown Bridgetown so if people want to drive downtown start with a charge of $25 per day and see that will work.

    It is really not so hard to wean people from cars and if we don’t we are going to choke as more and more of them arrive.

  8. Straight talk

    I must be so so stupid, Time will tell.

    I once lived in a city, four times the area and population of Bim, where public transport was free.

    It worked brilliantly.

    Mind you the buses were clean, regular and safe.

    Everyone left their cars at home for the commute.
    The roads unclogged, and everyone was happy.

    Who paid? Local taxation of course.

    Did anyone mind? No, swings and roundabouts and freedom of choice.

    Then along came Milt and his economic theories, the government banned the scheme, and forced everyone to pay the economic cost of the service.

    Last time I visited, bus fares were between $6-$8 per mile, there were horrendous traffic jams, nobody used the public transport and it operated permanently at a loss. Costing the taxpayer more each year than when it was free to ride.

    A true story from a very simple mind.

  9. permres

    My first post here was idealistic, perhaps even Utopian, but I wrote it to highlight how we are so enamoured of our cars. In this I include myself, my idealism of the 60s faded under bare necessity and the joy and comfort of one’s own private motor car. Driving is a pleasure, and I have always enjoyed it, especially by avoiding the jams and heavy traffic as much as I could. In the UK (and here) I came to a tail-back, and immediately turned off into a side lane. The day turned out completely differently to what I had planned. I missed funerals, weddings, meetings whatever, but now retired I live to tell the tale.

    I am posting now to endorse the perceptive post by Fool me once. Utopian ideals may be unattainable, but every move we make should be because we have those dreams. I think the post indicates some very practical ways in which we can proceed – but it does take vision by the decision makers. God bless them!

  10. Centipede

    “Free bus” transportation may not be all that bad an idea. with gas and diesel prices going up, many people might just decide to leave their automobile at home and “catch the bus.”

  11. Bimbro

    Sounds convincing, ‘Straight Talk’, but why do you omit the name of the city? Is it a state-secret?

  12. Fool me once

    Thanks for support Mr. Permres however it is gonna take a lot more than just the two of us. Why? Because govt and certain rich ones here are vested into having more cars on the road. To change the people despite them it has to be done in small steps.

    First step: next week declare a start to a system that says licence plates ending in odd numbers or 13 letters gotta stay off the road on Tuesday and Thursday. The others same thing on Monday and Friday.

    What people gonna do is double up in they cars. Save gridlock, parking, petrol and maybe even find out you neighbour is a fine person to ride with.

    Do this for a month. Next month say morning public transport rides are free. More people gonna go that way and relieve even more jamming and money costs.

    Keep doing it a bit at a time and soon car use way down. And other than emergencies and on allowed days everyone gonna keep their car in the yard so if you wanna impress with you BMW you can. Waste of money though.

    Now getting people to give up their car as it wears out or has to be repaired gonna get easier.

    End of a few months fewer people driving is the result. Country not having to spend foreign currency on needless petrol or autos and money is available for better things.

    All this just takes a will and intestinal fortitude by our leaders which they supposed to have.

  13. Fool me once

    What for your moderating me BFP? You one of them people that makes lotsa money from selling cars, petrol, parts?

    If you don’t like my idea then you got a right to disagree in your own blog but otherwise give us little people a chance to speak.


    BFP says

    Please take the time to read the Moderation tab at the top before you run off at the mouth and accuse us. Thanks!

  14. cherry2enpowered

    Whatever happen to the park and ride system?. Why isn’t that given piority before this notion at hand?.
    Do school children and lower income persons only ride the bus?
    Why not discount the busfare first?
    Or better yet free busfare to schoolchildren only?

    Busfares help offsets some of the Transport Board expenses. No money comming in, more taxes for the consumers!

    Get the park and ride system up and running. Over haul the entire Transport Board from scheduling departing and arrivals times to news routes with the apporpriate size buses to cracking down on the ZR culture in every form and fashion, then incorporate everyone under one authority then discounted fares.

    On another note since the new car dealers are jacking up their prices some reprive can be look at at the second hand car industry since everyone can’t afford a new car and some people would not ride or always ride on public transport.

    I now see why BFP took so long to address this issue. It had to take so much effort to write such nonsense.

    Where’s Mia voice?

  15. htmlKode

    Oh the Socialist mentality!
    Everything must be freee!

    How’s that gonna work?
    SOMEbody has to pick up the tab..somewhere. Government???

    Possible in large developed countries like Norway and maybe Sweden with revenues connected to large N.Sea oil deposits,
    but with our economy of can’t-even-afford-to-paint-the-white-lines-in-the-road
    how is that going to work??

    Most of this discussion is so completely ‘Pie in the Sky’!

    Nearby Trinidad had both the space and the dollar$ to expand their transport corridors North to South and East to West.
    In Barbados we have neither the space, nor the loot to do it!

    The B’dos. Transp. Situation is pretty much locked in, has been now for decades.

    A Rapid Transit subway system would cost billions
    and is probably feasible given the softness of the limestone which would be tunneled thru,
    but think of the hurdles as the project encounters each pit toilet or its residual downstream contents, so we can stop that one,right there..I’m sure it has been investigated already and found to be moot.

    Sea Ferries work well along the West Coast – until some sudden un-announced days Oct. to March
    when a big North Swell makes boarding at jetties dangerous or impossible – still, that’ll leave 300 days out of 365, so that one’s not a dead loss, but we must consider the cost of ferry maintenance
    (not a nice word,sorry)

    – will these Ferries be run by private enterprise
    or will it be pubic sorry public effort ?

    And where are the 19,732 cars from The North going to park, in Speightstown,during the day?

    -up and down every little side street like how Ppl’s Kathedral customers plague the residents of Pine Gardens?
    That’s not a solution, so someone needs to build six six-storey car parks in coastal St.Peter, surrounding S-town for that to work!

    Consider also another six six-storey car-parks at Holetown and environs, for when the ferries stop at the Holetown Jetty.

    Holetown Jetty?
    There is no Holetown Jetty.
    Maybe we can erect one of them quickly
    for under $50K. riiight.

    Despite the negatives we must strive for a solution, but I fear we seek One Big Solution and it won’t come that way.
    It’ll come in several smaller solutions
    ea. rendering 12.5% of the overall solution,
    but frankly it doesn’t look good.

    A decent start would be
    to cap the numbers of cars
    but we all know that’s impossible because no-one makes more on car importation that Gov’t. of Barbados
    (starting at 180% duties on matchbox cars, on up to 500% on big boys)
    and no-one makes more on ‘car-food’ than Sir Kyff.

    So we can mark a cap on cars off the list right here and now.

    In 20 yrs. time, we’ll have 340,000 registered vehicles on our roads
    you can bank money on that one
    coz I’m not enacting ‘Cap’ legislation…not on MY political watch,
    and neither will the other side!

    Solution will cost billions
    with a B,gentlemen…and we simply don’t have that kinda loot!
    Nevertheless we press on.

  16. Anonymous

    “Or better yet free bus fare to schoolchildren only?”

    Good idea!
    The costs will be offset by the new Parent Tax of $100 per child,per annum.


  17. Anonymous

    wot’s innit 4mia?

  18. Equal Time

    My recommendation:
    Abolish the transport board (save us the millions of wasted $, let EVERBODY pay (yep school children, pensioners as well).
    Forget the transport authority idea (more waste of funds).
    Allow one car/housing unit (low duties on 1100cc, very very high duties over this).
    Allow only owner driven PSVs. This will get rid of the reckless driving.
    Deregulate the entire sector. Allow anyone to enter the business and travel on any route subject only to insurance, vehicle road worthiness, passenger limits and that the PSV is owner driven.

  19. Thomas Gresham

    A bold idea BFP and one that merits consideration.

    Countries that subsidies public transport seem to be getting a better overall deal than those that do not. I have just come back from a trip to Paris and London at that is a case in point.

    There are many social and economic advantages of free bus transport at a time of high petrol prices and the removal of petrol subsidies. The question is whether the costs are greater than these benefits given our circumstances.

    Perhaps the way to do this is to overhaul to the transport system altogether. Transport could be publicly funded but privately delivered. The government could auction off bus routes where the winner of the auction is the one who bids for the lowest subsidy (per passenger mile traveled) to provide free transport that meets minimum standards of reliability and frequency and high standards of safety. Failure to meet the standards leads to an end of the contract and subsidy and perhaps further penalties.

    This could provide us with free transport but at a minimum of tax payers money, allow for innovation in timetables etc and in the process replace the ZR culture.

    This could be tried out on a couple of routes first to see if it works. Removing the petrol subsidies saved around $80m and some of this could be put towards an increased subsidy to public transport. Of course let us not ignore the fact that the taxes on all these cars on the road provide a tidy revenue for the government.

  20. Equal Time

    add to my list: No subsidies on fuel or anything.

  21. Green Monkey

    An article on free transit from a Canadian web site:

    17 Reasons (or More) to Stop Charging People to Ride the Bus
    The case for Fare-Free Transit.

    By Dave Olsen

    Why do we have any barriers to using buses, trolleys, SkyTrain? The threat of global warming is no longer in doubt. The hue and cry of the traffic jammed driver grows louder every commute. Yet since 2000, TransLink has hiked fares 50 per cent, and its board has just agreed to follow the staff’s recommendation to raise them higher still.

    That kind of thinking is so last century. Just ask the mayor of San Francisco, a city similar in size to Vancouver, who ordered his staff to seriously explore the cost efficiency of no longer charging people to ride public transit.

    Listen to Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, who recently voiced to a reporter his top dream: “I would have mass transit be given away for nothing and charge an awful lot for bringing an automobile into the city.”

    Consider this sampling of communities providing free rides on trolleys, buses, trams, and ferries: Staten Island, NY; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Vail, Colorado; Logan and Cache Valley, Utah; Clemson, South Carolina; Commerce, California; Châteauroux, Vitré, and Compiègne, France; Hasselt, Belgium; Lubben, Germany; Mariehamn, Finland; Nova Gorica, Slovenia; Türi, Estonia; Övertorneå, Sweden.

    Or speak, as I have, with transit officials in locales of Washington State and Belgium, where Fare-Free Transit has hummed along smoothly now for years.

    It’s time B.C. joined the trend because forcing people to pay ever higher fares is not just tough on the planet and people with tight budgets, it’s bad economics and self-defeating public policy, as I will explain in this five part series funded by a Tyee Fellowship for Solutions-oriented Reporting.


    As our own premier trumpets a green agenda, more people are taking a hard look at just how many of their tax dollars subsidize the private car versus less polluting buses and trains. You have to figure in roads, parking and other infrastructure, tax breaks for car and fuel companies, as well as subsidies for car ferries throughout the province and federal income tax reductions and write-offs for companies that use motor vehicles.

    Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has estimated that in 2000 the government subsidy to each private vehicle owner was about $5,378 in Canadian dollars.

    Continued here:

  22. Equal Time

    The problem in the transport system is that the “Government” is in the transport business! The referee (especially one with a personal financial interests) cannot be a player too! This transport authority idea and the subsidising of transport will only serve to solidify the hold on transport by those politicians, police and civil servants and their friends who currently run the system. They will be getting easy public money and not even have to hustle for it. Wastage, high costs (but hidden) and inefficiency is in the offering.

    A leopard doesn’t change its spots only its stride!

  23. Equal Time

    Moderation is a bummer!

  24. Green Monkey

    More articles on “no fare” transit from here:

  25. J

    Dear Gresham: I just come back from Paris too and even if public transportation is subsidized it certainly ain’t free. My recollection is that the fare is the equivalent of more than $2.00 BDS

  26. J

    I have taken the ZR’s every day since 1999, and many are not as bad as is believed. If you doubt me take a ZR any Sunday and see a completely different culture. The fellows are at their “Sunday Best” What we need to do is to provide training for all public transport staff including Transport Board, ZR’s ZM’s taxi’s etc. This training must be tied to licensing. Guys who don’t go to the properly structured training course would not get a license or would not get their curent license renewed. Cut the music once and for all. Buses with any kind of musical instrument should be pulled off route immediately and kept off until the instrument is removed. Let the police deal with speeding. They are capable. Restructure routes as needed so that guys are not so often “caught” off route.
    Raise adult busfares to $2.00 and cut out busfares entirely for children up to 16.

  27. Mea Culpa

    I agree that at least this government is trying some innovations.
    And I like the comments by the PM’s press secretary today that he is going outside of the box to consult BEFORE the budget with non-traditional groups. The PM even invited persons on call-in programmes and blogs to make suggestions. I like that. It is important that the welter of ideas of well-intentioned citizens get a hearing. Super.
    Keep it up, Mr. Thompson!

  28. J

    I’ve often wondered why we provide 5 years of tax-funded/”free” education for doctors and lawyers and 3 years of tax-funded/”free” education for nurses, and 2 years of tax-funded/”free” education and for teachers and 6 months of tax-funded/”free” education for policemen , and tax-funded/”free” training for Transport Board drivers, and years of tax-funded “free” education to journalists, and engineers, and draftsmen, and architechs, and carpenters and masons, and chefs and so many other workers and yet we provide not a minute’s nor cent’s worth of training to ZR drivers.

    Why is this?

    And since this is our failing, why do we expect good results when we are not willing to take the time nor spend the money in this vital sector of the economy?


    We need to have a compulsory, structured training program in place, which must include classroom work and well as on the job training. The course might include defensive driving, book keeping, basic mechanics, customer service etc. This training must be tied to licensing. No training. No license. The classrooms should be conviently sited, perhaps in the bus-stands. The guys must be given proper notice (maybe a year or so) that they will need to take the course before their license is next renewed.
    I bet that this will be more effective than fining and locking up the guys.
    Education and training works. Surely we as Bajans know this. It works in other fields and it will work in the ZR field too. We have a lot of retired (but not tired) teachers, hotel workers, Transport Board workers, and London Transport guys too who I am sure can put together and deliver an effective training program. Before we forego millions of dollars in busfares, befoe we get nto an administration and tax heavy “free” busfare system. I think that first we should try delivering tax-funded/”free” training to all public transport drivers.

  29. J

    Many of the people who think that ZR men are monsters have never taken a ZR in their life. I take ZR’s 7 days a week, including Sundays and have done so for almost a decade.

    I just walked in from the bus stop. It was after 10:30 p.m and the last ZR was just going off duty. A minor child “female” had had a long wait – after choir practice no less – for her first bus, Transport Board as it happens, and when she got to her change-bus-stop the last ZR was just about to go off-duty. I asked the guys never the less take her to the bus-stop near her home. They cheerfully said “yes” and within 10 minutes she called me from home to let me know that she had arrived safely. This too is routine ZR culture, but it is not the sort of ZR culture that makes the headlines. But then again good news seldom makes the headlines.

    I know all of the ZR guys on my route and they always treat me and mine respectfully.

    They are not monsters.

  30. J

    A child with Down syndrome frequently takes the ZR’s on my route in order to get to school. Every single conductor on this route keeps the bus waiting while he takes (not sends) the child across the street, as there is no pedestrian crossing nor traffic light at this bus-stop. Transport Board drivers NEVER do this. Maybe they are forbidden to leave their buses unattaeded for even the 30 seconds it would take to help a disabled child across the street or maybe they don’t have the time.

    This too is ZR culture. But it never ever makes the news.

  31. J

    I am a big, big, big believer in the power of education. Barbadians can be weaned from using their cars for routine school and work trips. An efficient reasonably priced bus system together with a big, big, big public education campaign can do the trick.

    I remember the days when no respectable Barbadian woman would use contraception. Respectable women (married or single) had many children even though condoms – exceedingly effective as contraceptives – were readily available especially after World War 2. But respectable men did not use condoms when enjoying sex with their wife or “woman in the house”. Then in the 1960’s the Barbados Family Planning Association launched a public education campaign and even now the words ring in my head, “make a plan a family plan before you make a baby” this campaign made contraception respectable and the public education campaign went on for years and it (and the pill, and extremely dedicated public health nurses) dropped Barbados’s birth rate from 8 per woman in 1950 to 1.6 per woman in 2000. All because public education persuaded respectable church going couples that contraception was a good thing. If people can be persuaded to alter the way they live the most intimate part of their lives then I believe that they can be also persuaded to catch the bus.

    I believe a well though out, well executed public education campaign can persuade respectable Barbadians that going on the bus is a good thing. I believe that Barbadians can be persuaded to divorce their cars, at first during the week and as they see how well it is going, then permanently.

    Note that already the Transport Board has persuaded respectable, middle class, car-owning, car-loving Barbadians that going by bus on a scenic Sunday tour is a good thing. So Barbadians have no real moral or social qualms about taking the bus.

    Yes Barbadians will catch the bus. They are just waiting to be persuaded.

    If the DLP manages to do this well they will almost certainly get a second term.

  32. J

    Dear Anonymous: No parent tax please. We parents already feel over-taxed. We don’t raise children for pleasure ya know so no need to tax us one more time.

    You know full well that as soon as Little Johnnie and Susie go out to work that “the guvment” takes 25% or more of salary if we been so foolish as to educate Little Johnnie and Susie to post-graduate level the “guvment’s” take will be in the region of 40%

    The “guvment” gets the first 25 to 40% of our children’s salaries. We the nearly bankrupt parents are lucky to get a birthday card.

    Get off our backs nuh!! Parenting hard work (even though it is fun too). We don’t need the grief.

  33. Green Monkey

    Panel discussion: James Howard Kunstler and Nikos Salingaros (Part 1)

    by Lakis Polycarpou

    Coping with the peak – June 5…

    A few months ago, I conducted a panel discussion with urban theorists James Howard Kunstler and Nikos Salingaros for the magazine Next American City. Because of space limitations, the magazine was unable to publish the full interview. Since some very interesting portions of the discussion were cut, I thought it would be worthwhile to present the unexcerpted piece here. Because it’s long, I’m going to post in two parts. The original article can be found at: Respect for the Human Scale.


    LP: I would like to start with a quote. Writing 50 years ago on the inauguration of the Interstate Highway System, Lewis Mumford commented that “the current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation, but on the religion of the motorcar; and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism.”

    Half a century later the religion of the motorcar is, if anything, stronger than ever. Is there any hope of changing course in the coming years, or are we doomed to repeat the auto-centered planning mistakes of recent decades? Is there any way for healthy cities to make peace with the automobile, or must it be banished from them altogether?

    JHK: First of all, I don’t think that we’re going to have to make a whole lot of further accommodations to the automobile. I’m serenely convinced that the automobile is going to be a diminishing presence in our lives. We’re not going to come up with any “miracle” or “rescue remedy” for the petroleum scarcity problem.

    I think you’re going to see an interesting political problem arise, where motoring simply becomes an elite activity again, and will be greatly resented by the masses of Americans. There are all kinds of problems including unanticipated ones.

    Now that’s the second half of the Mumford question. The first half has a lot to do with what I call the “psychology of previous investment.” The investment we’ve made now in the happy motoring life is so enormous, that no matter what reality is telling us about it, we’re probably going to see a big campaign to sustain the unsustainable at all costs. I maintain that this will probably work out as a gigantic exercise in futility and a further waste of our remaining resources. We’re probably going to campaign to keep suburbia going, but it’s not going to pay off for us, and it’s really basically a waste of our time and our resources.


    LP: Would it be correct to say that it’s too late to make the necessary changes?

    JHK: From my point of view, I think the mistake a lot of observers and commentators make is in assuming that there’s some sort of a smooth transition between where we’re at now and where we’re going. I maintain that there’s actually a lot of noise in the system, and what we’re faced with is some sort of a discontinuity that is liable to be rather sharp and produce a lot of disorder.

    LP: So it’s not that you think it’s impossible to run a modern society on much less energy, with maybe healthier city planning, it’s just that we’re not going to do it in time?

    JHK: Well, no, I think I’d go further and say that most of the thinking about alternative energy solutions is delusional. We’re not going to run Walmart and the Interstate Highway System or Walt Disney World on any combination of the alternatives that are in play right now, or even close to it. We’re going to have to make very different arrangements, and we’re simply not psychologically prepared for that reality.

    Part 1 continues here:

    Part 2 of the interview is at:

  34. Ivan Taylor

    Great Article

    Make one transport authority and place public and private(ZR) vehicles under one umbrella.

    Create a Transport service authority which will encompass all forms of public transport.

    Free is not always the way to go, maybe a pass and some sort of transit monthly card say like the oyster card in London, great idea here where you can use any public transport all week for one price, getting rid of the money aspect nearly. These are made available to top up at every location where phone cards can be toped up.

    Make transport more safe and far more organized, make the buses stop at the bus stops, put pay booths at major routes which will allivate the transfer of money hence cutting out that human error of money exchange.

    Upgrade the buss stops, this could be a unified drive by public, private and government, get the transport system to provide better bus schedules, some buses dont need to stop at each stop, say the Spiegtstown bus from Oistings this could stop at certain stops and not all, making it that far more effective.People will then use these stops to gather and the system will be far more effective.

    On most bus shelters show a bus route and show what number buses run these routes and what times and days.

    Improve the bus terminals, turn them into prime shopping spaces and clean them all up, encourage good shops places to eat and snack, bank machines etc.

    Put together a Transport Security which will be designed for transport alone, travel buses, work the terminals spot check stops etc.

    It takes time but set the guide lines and it can be achieved. Barbadians are people that will change if they feel they will be a benefit to do so. The time is now if anyone wants my input tell the minister I am available, I think its a reachable goal one we should work towards

  35. 109

    if U don’t want Parent Tax among your other taxes… STOP REPRODUCING WILLY NILLY!

    We already have FAR 2many ppl on this island and THAT is the root ROOT cause of all our social problems.

    Too Many people!
    But U don’t want to hear that, do you?!


    Liked the suggestion from someone above
    that we have ONLY OWNER DRIVEN PSV’s.
    That would do much to control the RH that happens on ZRs.

  36. J

    Dear 109:

    Don’t get your pants in a knot. I have never reproduced willy-nilly. Who do you think that yu are talking to? I have reproduced only once and it was a very carefully planned reproduction. Something willy about it naturally and joyfully, but nothing at all nilly.

    There are NOT too many people in Barbados. Young people are NOT the problem. In fact the opposite is true. There are too few young Barbadians in Barbados. Our birth rate is unsustainably low. In fact our birth rate has been below replacement level for more than 25 years.

    Since mother nature abhors a vaccum, Barbadians that were not born are being replaced by foreigners, and only time will tell if we can make them into Barbadians or if they will make Barbados into a foreign country. And only time wil tell if the Barbados of 25 years from now will be a better place or a worse place.

    But I have to correct that fallacy that Barbados’ problems are caused by “the young people breeding too much” For all you out there who think that reproduction = self indlgence, let me point out to you that reproduction is also WORK, and that productive work is dependent on adequate reproduction. People build businesses. It is not yet possible for businesses to build people. And businesses still have not found a way to progress without people.

    So no, I will not take any nonsense from people who feel that child bearing and child rearing are selfish acts. Every sucessful business depends on those of us who are bearing and rearing new people.

    Got to go before my head gets hot.

  37. J

    I am not too sure that any government can introduce a law saying that there be only owner drives PSV’s. It seems to me that that will be an unlawful hindrance on trade. It seems to me that the owners could take the government to court for unlawfully hindering the growth of their business. It seems to me that they would likely win any such case.

    It seems to me that at the next election the people would throw out any rascals who tried any such thing.

    Dear 109: What other nonsense are you going to suggest? That lawyers should only work for their own families? that doctors can only look after their own? that contractors can only build only for themselves, that pharmacies be only owner operated. Ya would shut down long established pharmacy firms such as Collins Ltd then?

    Do you really want to drive Barbados down to a subsistence economy.

    Every Barbadian has a right to pursue business ventures. And every Barbadian has a right to grow his business as fast and as big as he lawfuly can. If a man or woman wants to have 10, or 100 or 1000 PSV’s whats wrong with that?

    Has anyody ever told Foster and Ince (or any other tour operator) that they can have only one owner driven bus? Does anybody try to tell Simpson’s (or any other car dealer) that they should only sell cars or oil to family? Or does anybody try to put a limit on the growth of Williams Industries? Does anybody tell Sir Charles that he can only have one horse? All these businesses grew from pitifully small beginnings and a good thing too. The PSV businesses should also be permitted to grow.

    Dear 109: Stop writing thoughtless nonsense and wake up and live in the real capitalist 21st century world.

  38. J

    Dear 109: You are unbelievably foolish and maybe dangerous. Have you ever heard an American, or Canadian or a British or Swedish person say that American or Canadian, or British, or Swedish people are the root cause of the social problems of those countries? So you think that if only we get rid of all the Barbadians then Barbados would be a fine little place with no problems? Hitler felt that way about the Jews and Romany and African people and look how much trouble he caused. But not even Hitler hated his own Austro/German people. Why do you find Barbadians to be problematic? Are you a Barbadian? If so do you realize how self-hating you are? If you are a foreigner then why did you come to dwell among us? and why don’t you leave? Nobody asked you to come and you are free to go. Come to think of it you are free to go even if you are a Barabdian. Nobody is detaining you.

    Nothing wrong with the PSV’s that good education, sensible permissions and good policing can’t fix.

    But taxing parenthood in a country with a 1.6 birth rate. I have never heard such foolishness in my whole life. Indeed if anything government should be giving a subsidy to those of us engaged in the hard WORK of raising the next generation of workers and business people.


    I still can’t believe that there are such foolish people in the world.

  39. Waterboy

    “Barbados Government Showing LEADERSHIP and Innovation.”

    BFP it is or may be innovative thinking, idea, policy,proposal, concept, intention, initiative,plan etc etc but it is not LEADERSHIP.

    LEADERSHIP is leading by example. Tell me the last time we saw leadership from our so called leaders, BLP or DLP.

  40. Equal Time

    J writes in full pompous ignorance of the facts:

    ” If a man or woman wants to have 10, or 100 or 1000 PSV’s whats wrong with that?”

    Nothing is “wrong” except that PRESENTLY there is that matter of a license which is required to operate and which restricts the licensee to a specified route. There are also other laws which prohibit who may get such licenses e.g a police officer (don’t mind that some contravene the law).

    Governments, the world over, have used tax measures and other policies to influence reproduction rates. Why does the PRESENT B’DOS INCOME TAX structure only give an allowance for 2 children and not 3 or 4 or more?

    Time for J to grow up and understand that the hallmark of 21st century capitalism is regulation which limits who may enter a market and how those players may operate e.g PSVs cannot presently charge more than $1.50/passenger/trip.

  41. Tell me Why

    Here’s a little maths that everyone can try to find the answer.

    If $1.50 per passenger tantamount to millions in losses. How much would $0.00 per passenger tantamount to?

    Also, I am waiting for the names of the countries that have free commuter services.

  42. Bimbro

    Also, I am waiting for the names of the countries that have free commuter services.


    That right, ‘Tell Me Why’, perhaps, ‘Straight Talk’, has forgotten where he used to live!

    It’s nuh wonda I does have to keep my mout shut pun dese blogs!!!! 🙂

  43. Thomas Gresham

    Given the time lost, pollution generated, stress gained and the foreign currency demand of our oil import bill, it makes economic sense to tax cars and subsidise public transport. This is our existing policy stance, though there is room to do more.

    I have described above a way in which public transport can be delivered by private owners of PSVs even though it is publicly funded/subsidised and this may maximize the efficient use of tax payer dollars and provide scope for innovation in timetables and service delivery.

    A great many countries subsidise public transport. Most continental transport is subsidized and by and large works well. In the UK and Bermuda, free bus passes are given to retired people, but that is for social and not so much economic reasons. And it does serve an important social purpose. In the UK too, children travel on buses for free and I think this was an attempt to reduce the congestion caused by the “school run” which is a major source of congestion in Barbados too.

  44. J

    Dear Equal Time:

    The Barbados Income Tax as is presently is, is deeply flawed. The 2 child limit was put in the Act more than 50 years ago when the birth rate was about 8 per woman and the government was attempting to use tax law to bring the birth rate down. The birth rate is now 1.6 per woman. So why does our law still behave as though the birth rate is 8? Barbados’ birth rate was actually brought down however not by Barbados’ income tax law, but starting in the 1960’s by the widespread use of the oral contraceptive pill and it is now being further brought down by the widespread use of condoms which reduce the spread of HIV but which coincidentally also lowers the birth rate.

    But as with so much else in Barbados sucessive governments have failed to do the required maintainance on the Income Tax Act. If they had given careful though they would long since as a matter of good public policy removed the 2 child limit. There is nothing sacred about the 2 child limit. It was put there for a specific purpose and if that purpose no longer exists then good sense and good public policy would suggest that the limit be removed or amended.

    Why do you think that the Barbados government has had to effectively raise the retirement age to 67? That happened not because our birth rate is too high but because we have failed to bear and rear enough young tax payers to feed money into the NIS. There are not enough young tax payers entering the work force so all of use older ones are required to remain working and to pay NIS and Income Tax for quite a bit longer to ensure that the NIS and Income tax systems remain solvent. NIS troubles were not acturial but demographic. We did an acturial fix, but we are yet to do a demographic fix. In fact a part of good policy would be for government to seek to encourage the growth of more young people. In other words we have fixed the old end of the NIS but we have not done a fix on the younger end. That fix remains to be done. Lets see which party has the courage to say “yes” to the need for more young Barbadians and to create the public policy which encourages the growth of bigger stronger young families. Understand I am not talking here about families and not about “men breeding women”. The DLP is famous for their “Families First” slogan and even though I did not vote for them this time I hope that “Families First” is more than a slogan. I hope to see some family friendly and economy friendly policy from this administation

    It is a pity that PSV’s cannot charge more than $1.50. I expect that successive governments have also know that busfares need to be raised but you know as well as I do that the matter of busfares is a political hot potato that no party wants to touch.

    I take the bus every day and I would be more than happy to pay $2.00 per trip.

    And even though I agree with you that any decent society must have some sensible regulation I would no more restrict public service vehicles to owner/driver only than I would think to restrict Chefette to owning one restaurant only. Let Chefette open 1,000 restaurants if they want, as long as they are clean and so forth that’s where the government regulations should come in. But let the shareholders decide when building more restaurants or buying more buses is no longer cost effective. And let the cistomer decide with whom they want to do business. Apart from sensible health and safety regulations which is government’s role, let the market place (and the share holders) decide when is enough in the market place.

    Your Humble Servant


  45. Tell me Why

    Hi TG. We all know that progressive countries do subsidise public transport. Barbados is no exception, but if the Government crying out for the present losses, boy oh boy, we gonna hear bawling from within Parliament.

  46. Tell me Why

    I heard that the tracking devices placed on Transport Board buses are on hold, so says the Chairman of the Board. Hear talk about paper-trail missing; and all this was published in the Nation a few days ago.

    Would you put safety on hold just to proof one’s ego?

  47. Wishing in Vain

    Tell me Why I understand your mind set once it was done by your party accept,accept accept and go on, do even attempt to get to the root of the mismanagement of public funds, I think we all know why they are being researched, the contract was more than likely arranged thru Hallam Nicholls and company and maybe the true value is now being seen versus what the taxpayers were ripped off with by Nicholls.

  48. J

    Dear Equal Time:

    Forgive me for being so foolish.

    What was I thinking that I thought that in the 21st century the whole world seems to be moving in the direction of freeer trade or at least seeking to remove undue restrictions on trade.

  49. Tell me Why

    Hi WIV, I am patiently awaiting the answer to this new maths to no avail.

    Can you give me the answer? Here’s the question:-
    If the Transport Board charges $1.50 per passenger that tantamount to millions in losses. What would be the losses for zero dollars per passenger?

    I hear this is new maths.

  50. Inkwell

    I wholeheartedly support the idea of the integration of PSV’s into a Transport Authority providing free transportation to the public.

    The fact is that the Government is already providing a level of subsidization to public transport as it has annually, (since inception in the 1960’s) had to pump substantial amounts into the Transport Board to make up for its losses while it has collected only $1.50 per passenger (since 1991). A recent newspaper article put that amount at $142 million over the past three years.

    This $1.50 has been collected from that poorest segment of the population. Government’s articulated transport policy is to continue to subsidize public transportation for that portion of the population that is least able to handle any increased financial pressure as an integral part of its social policy. That is why we are unlikely to see the increase in bus fares that the PSV operators have been calling for with increasing stridency and frequency as increasing operating expenses have decimated their profitability over the years, while bus fares have been kept at an artificially low level, forcing operators to subsidize public transport out of their own pockets .

    The time for free public transportation paid for by ALL instead of those least able has come.

    One of the things that should be considered is that the ZR vans should be phased out and replaced by the more economical and larger capacity Hino minibus, previously locally manufactured.(There are many on the road over twenty years old and still working fine. Show me a twenty year old Mercedes Benz bus!!)

    This phasing should also be Government assisted as it will serve the very beneficial purpose of resuscitating a business killed by the last administration in its zeal to keep the importers of other larger vehicles from Brazil happy. I will say no more on that subject, except that it will save millions of dollars in foreign exchange, commissions etc, etc and will provide much needed jobs at the local level.

  51. Straight talk


    Although as a matter of intellectual purity, I studiously ignore your comments, it has been brought to my attention you are attempting to ensnare me in your far flung web of confusion.

    Suffice it to say I will NEVER respond to your entreaties.

    You listening ‘Bro NEVER.

    I found your early submissions trite, devoid of content and downright racist.

    As such I , for one , and I suspect many more intelligent bloggers, skip over any Bimbro submission for the same reason …. much froth, no substance.

    Because you have had more comebacks than the late Frank Sinatra, I am sure you will respond to this.

    Be assured, my policy will prevail, I shall never, ever read a Bimbro signed comment.

    The next time you say you are leaving, don’t lie.

  52. Equal Time

    A transport authority is about free trade? Read my earlier post again (about 33 posts up). The owner driven PSV suggestion is only made as a response to the indiscipline now being experienced in the PSV system. Your education approach I think will take too long to show results and IMHO quite likely to fail anyway given the motivation of drivers to make money for the owners as well as themselves. The owners seem to not be accountable for the behaviour of the drivers.

    By the way, has Goddard’s been allowed to open a Subway resturant? Has Starcom been given a television license. Can credit unions compete with commercial banks? So much for free enterprise in the 21st century! Whether we like it or not, regulation exists (sometimes for less than honourable reasons)!

    It probably means that I’m wrong (LOL) but I have been the one of the few persons to have objected to the transport authority idea (as well as subsidies) on this thread.

  53. Equal Time

    After reading Inkwell’s post, I am even more perplexed why any rational person would support a transport authority. $142 million in three years! Where does anyone think this comes from…Mars? Come on people, anything “free” (actually the costs are hidden) ends up being used ineffectively and inefficiently ultimately leading to collapse (unless there a nearly unlimited source of money somewhere else to keep paying the bill).

  54. J

    Dear Equal Time:

    Clearly I have no real authority otherwise I would not be on this blog but would be on Bay Street or Church Village, or at the building across from Heroes Square or at the university or in a lodge meeting making real-real public policy. However since I am in none of those places and since this blog is all that I have “yes” Goddards would have their Subway licence (Subway’s food is ok, not great but ok) VOB would have their TV license (although I rarely watch TV myself) and most certainly my credit union would be able to compete with banks. I don’t know about your bankers, but I can assure that mine are a bunch of EXTORTIONATE FOREIGN rascals. So yes, yes, yes, yes I would enjoy sic-ing the credit unions on them.

    And you may have mis-understood me. I am not in favour of any Transport Authority. I don’t like authorities much becasue they tend to be too authoritarian. And I am not in favour of transport subsidies either, except for school children and perhaps the very, very poor and the seriously disabled. Believe it or not I an not in favour of free busfares for old peole either. I feel that many if not most of our old people can well afford to pay the bus for the one or two trips which they take each week..

    And cuh dear man, reducing the bus-men to only one bus would be to throw out the baby with the bath water. We have to find a fix which does not deprive the investors of their investment.

    And yes unfortunately educating the bus men would indeed take a long time, but all education takes long (it takes 5+ years to turn a raw HC or QC upper sixer into a half decent doctor, but we the tax payers pay for it, because we believe that it is very important) I believe that education is one of the best ways for us as Barbadians to move forward in a sustainable fashion.

    You know very well that the thing that takes long is often the very best thing.

    Public Transportation policy cannot be about punishing ZR owners or drivers. It has to be about an efficient way of getting workers to work at reasonable costs and with reasonable safety Public Transportation is not primarily a social service. It is about ensuring that workers and employers can get together to do their good productive thing.

    It is foolish to make public policy designed to punish workers or business people.

    We musn’t sit down and make bad policy just ’cause we vex.

  55. Bimbro

    Hi ‘Straight Talk’, u can cease the pompous, clap-trap. Simply, tell us where u lived where public transport was free so we can make our own assessment of the merits of what u were saying, or have u forgotten where u lived, or did u make it up, completely! It is actually, quite childish not to say!

    I would like to leave, however, when I see nonsense like you’ve written it’s difficult to ignore it! Wake up!

  56. Bush Tea


    If you continue on this line of logic, Bush tea will happily retire from blogging.

    You please my heart.

    The real truth is that the ZRs are the most efficient and productive aspect of Bajan society.

    …they pay HIGH taxes, high insurance, high maintenance costs, high road taxes, high fines.
    They charge LOW fares, subsidize school children, and in all this, they manage to:

    1 Make profits
    2 Actually move people to and from work very efficiently
    3 maintain excellent customer relations with their paying clients

    Admittedly, they upset some persons who feel that they should have right of way in their single occupant gas guzzling Benz. …. (another plus ?!? 😉 )

    Meanwhile transport Board cost how much????

    So what will free bus transport do?

    1 – put the ZRs out of business
    2 – Triple the cost of running the Transport Board
    3 – Create a Transport Authority that will waste even more money that transport Board and MTW combined….

    ….how much you bet that this is what we will do?!?

  57. Inkwell

    J and Bush Tea, you both have some misconceptions about the suggestion for a free bus service which I shall attempt to clear up.

    The proposal is not to punish PSV operators and /or put them out of business, but to incorporate them into a unified transport system with the Government paying them a fee (to be arrived at, but definitely higher than $1.50) per person transported.

    This is being considered by Government as it will solve the great majority of the problems created by the unfair treatment of this sector for the past seventeen years. If you are really interested in a further analysis of this subject, you will find it in an article I previously wrote here

    Incorporating PSV’s into a Government funded transport authority will remove the element of competition which results in reckless driving and anti social behaviour on the road, remove the much talked about loud, offensive music and its harmful influence particularly on school children, allow workers in the industry to earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, allow owners to hire a better quality of worker and not least of all, cut down on diesel consumption by promoting more civilized driving.

    Yes, J, Public Transportation is a social service, the Government says so and has pursued this policy since 1991 by limiting bus fares to $1.50 and actively subsidizing public travel. The Governments stated policy has been to recover this subsidy through the high regime of duties on imported vehicles.

    What full subsidization will do is encourage efficiency and remove the huge anomalies between the public and private transport sectors and spread the cost over the entire population instead of only on those who can least afford it.

  58. Equal Time

    J….Bush Tea as well,

    I take it that you read my recommendations made THREE DAYS ago?

    [for the latecomers here’s what I wrote, (give me a chance BFP I try to keep it brief)]

    “Abolish the transport board (save us the millions of wasted $, let EVERBODY pay (yep school children, pensioners as well).
    Forget the transport authority idea (more waste of funds).
    Allow one car/housing unit (low duties on 1100cc, very very high duties over this).
    Allow only owner driven PSVs. This will get rid of the reckless driving.
    Deregulate the entire sector. Allow anyone to enter the business and travel on any route subject only to insurance, vehicle road worthiness, passenger limits and that the PSV is owner driven.

    I also added in a subsequent post “No subsidies on fuel or anything.”

    Aren’t we on the same page (as Denis Johnson would say)? The main disagreement between J and I is the owner driven restriction. I believe that such a restriction presently obtains in Trinidad (this is only stated to make the point that it is not a far fetched, original idea, LOL).

    Oh another recommendation: reduce the taxes on PSVs!

    I do not own or operate a PSV nor am I related, associated or employed by anyone owning or operating a PSV.

  59. Cat Scan

    With the price of oil continuing to rise, due to lots of demand and a stressed supply ( we in Barbados must improve our public transport system.

    I admit I love the freedom a personal vehicle gives you, but I have no problem getting on a bus. The bus system must be provided at a reasonable cost, comfortable and reliable. In fact I recently purchased a small motorcycle in an effort to keep my transport costs down. It works, $25 in gas every two weeks and I ride it most days, less sitting in traffic as well.

    Maybe we should step back from the problem and determine what it is we are really trying to solve. We need to move people so as to keep our economic engine running. What are the best ways to do this? As a teenager (many years ago) I rode a bicycle 6 miles to school and back and I loved the freedom that gave me from depending on my parents to get to school.

    I am just trying to stimulate discussion possibly in a new direction.

    Cat Scan

  60. Bimbro

    To various: unnecessary, verbosity is a sin! I seek merely, to improve the quality of posts not their quantity nor allude to their veracity, apropos, ‘Straight Talk’! 🙂

  61. Bimbro

    Dear ‘Straight Talk’, in a genuine effort to assist your memory, in case the entire episode was n’t just a figment of your generous, imagination, please tell us which continent you were living in at the time and we’ll make our best endeavours to help you to remember the name of the city. I know that these efforts can be difficult on occasion, especially, as we begin to get on in life, so we shall make every genuine, effort to assist you to remember.

  62. Thewhiterabbit

    The biggest problems with local public transport lie in the areas of comfort, reliability, and ease of use. After a walk close to one mile uphill to get to my nearest bus stop, my bus comes hourly, is usually too full to allow me on-board, is hot, smelly (both exhaust and passengers), and has hard plastic seats that cannot be vandalized by users. Bus is frequently broken down beside the road. When in Britain my train was always on time, never too full, pleasant interior, comfortable plush seats, people pleasant (never stink). My local bus takes me to Fairchild St. where I then have to wait a good while to get another bus, total public transport time home to work one hour fifteen minutes, distance traveled, 20 km. In Britain train took me to tube station, next train five minutes, total time from home to work, one hour thirty minutes, distance traveled 60 miles. But, the weather here is much better than in Britain, and the rum is cheap, so who’s complaining? The point is that it is impossible to force people to use public transport by means of high taxes on cars and fuel (we already have that in spades). The public transport system must be comfortable, reliable, and it must get you there in a reasonable length of time. These we do not have, and until we do have these qualities wishing for widespread use of public transport is whistling in the wind.

  63. Bimbro

    When in Britain my train was always on time, never too full, pleasant interior, comfortable plush seats, people pleasant (never stink).


    ‘White Rabbit’, why are you revealing our secrets (the UK’s) to the Barbadians? Don’t u know the Bajans ‘know it all already’! Trying to tell them anything is an invitation to abuse!!

    Then, there’s ‘Straight Talk’, who’s unable to recall where he lived!!!!

  64. Bimbro

    Dear ‘MR Straight Talk’, we entreat you PLEASE to reveal the name of this mysterious and fictitious city in which you asserted that you lived for ten years, in which the public transport was free and wonderful but the name of which you’re now, unable to remember! I’m convinced that your memory can’t be that poor and that you’re just being ‘a Bajan’!! 🙂

  65. Bimbro

    Of course, another idea has just occured to me – is it possible that ‘Stright Talk’ could be a DLP ‘plant’ floating the idea and hoping to gain widescale acceptance of the new govt. policy via the medium of our blog, without revealing who he is?

  66. J

    Came to work on one ZR and one yellow bus this morning. None of the passengers were stink nor smelly. Like me I believe that they and all had a bath within an hour of leaving home, had all used deodorant, and were all wearing freshly laundered clothes.

    I too lived a long long time in the cold white North. By mid-winter the coats of the passengers on the buses and subways stink. At least once I had to disembark because I could not stand the smell. Nobody in the North can afford to wear a freshly laundered coat every day. In Barbados clothes can be cheaply laundered and freely sun and wind dried. I find that public transit passengers are less smelly in Barbados that in the cold white North. Laundering a winter coat is neither easy nor cheap. Many people can only afford one or two winter coats and by mid-winter they stink.

  67. Bimbro

    I’m surprised that BFP, would n’t also be just as excited as I am, to discover the name of this paradisical city! BFP, where are your enquiring journalistic instincts, on this occasion?!!!

  68. J

    Dear Whiterabbit:

    You lie.

    I was in London, Toronto and Paris in the last 17 months and the trains are ALWAYS full, squeezed up tight against the other comuters full at rush hour.

    Who are you trying to fool?

  69. Sure, sure whiterabbit and the streets of Britain were paved with gold too.

    Pray tell, on what idyllic patch of Britain did you live? For I spent a year there recently – part of it in the Midlands and the rest in London and most days found myself longing for the public transport of home.

    The London tube in particular was dreadful – there were delays nearly every day – either from some fool deciding to end their life on the railway tracks, or rerouting because of work being done on various lines, or trains breaking down (with depressing regularity) or

    The trains were regularly packed, especially at rush hour. By the time the train reached my station (oft late) it was as packed as a clown car – I rarely stood in the train car, it was more like I was suspended by the sheer crush of bodies. Sitting was not an option – ever.

    And as for the pleasant Brits who greeted you on the train – who are these creatures? Surely not the ones I encountered who did all they could to avoid eye contact, much less a ‘good day’ and would stare blankly ahead when a pregnant woman got into the train rather than offer her a seat.

    My public transp experience was slightly less hellish in the Midlands – when the bus came. I lived in a rural hick town and trust me, transportation in rural hick towns is the same the world over. It sounds like you live in the Barbadian equivalent of one with your hourly bus and I do sympathise with your plight but I doubt that could beat where I lived in the Midlands where the bus came every hour and a half on weekdays, had a large gap in the middle of the day where it simply did not run and came every 3 hours (yes, really) on Sundays. Imagine dealing with that in the dead of winter.

    I don’t doubt your experience with public transportation here in B’dos has been wretched but you do it an injustice by comparing it to a system that is not much better.

    By comparison to my experience with British transportation, my experience with Barbadian transportation has been pretty decent. I live on a route that is regularly plied with ZRs – I never have to wait more than 5 minutes for one, even on weekends. The ZR men are largely polite, though some are indeed brutes (but still all more polite than the bastard British bus drivers who would drive off even though they eyeball you ACROSS THE FRICKING ROAD trying to get to the bus). The music is often too loud but that can be fixed – just ban it altogether the way it is on Transport Board buses.

    We do not have a perfect system and it certainly needs fixing but it is aggravating when neocolonialist minded folk attempt to diminish it by comparing it to the systems ‘over in away’ when some of us know full well the failings of these transport systems.

  70. J

    Cuh dear Islandista yuh had to be so hard on the whiterabbit?

  71. Rumplestilskin

    Cat Scan: ‘With the price of oil continuing to rise, due to lots of demand and a stressed supply ( we in Barbados must improve our public transport system. ‘

    VP of the Russian oil company stated recently that he expects the price of oil to double to US$250 per barrel in the near future. This was disputed by the head of BP.

    Nevertheless, this is more confirmation of what we already discussed i.e. for one reason or another, some not only demand, it is basically accepted that the oil price will rise over the next few years, even if it drops a bit first.

    Bye bye big gas guzzling clunkers, hello midsize compacts.

    You are right Cat Scan, it is now essential to look seriously at the public transport system.

    It is also essential to institute a cheap but reliable inter-island ferry, after all who can afford inter-island airfares of thousands of dollars.

    Ferries MUST come, it is now inevitable. I only ask that the Government carefully assess and get the best advice before buying, to avoid having any white elephants that end up not serving our purposes.


  72. Real Ting

    I have been told that free transport is available in Denver Colorado.

  73. Bimbro

    I lived in the Midlands where the bus came every hour and a half on weekdays, had a large gap in the middle of the day where it simply did not run and came every 3 hours (yes, really) on Sundays. Imagine dealing with that in the dead of winter.


    Islandista, the likelihood is that everybody else, had cars! 🙂

    Be careful what u say about Britsh transport, ‘island’, many Barbadians have worked for both British Rail and London Transport! You will get cuss!!!! 🙂

  74. Bimbro

    Real Ting
    June 12, 2008 at 2:26 pm
    I have been told that free transport is available in Denver Colorado.


    Real Thing, do u think that’s where ‘Straight Talk’ could have lived for so many years before he forgot the name of the location? If not, why was he so secretive about it!! Do u think he’s alright?

  75. Bimbro

    Come on Clive, yuh has to laugh!!!! 🙂

  76. Bimbro

    Dear Clive, please release my posts. You’ve ‘held them prisoner’ for too, long!!

    BTW, do u know that one, ‘Please Release Me’, by Englebert Humperdink!

    A brilliant, song!!!! I know it’s slightly, removed from the question of Barbados’ transport but, as u know, all the celebrities visit Barbados at some point or other, so he may well have traversed the roads of Bim, therefore the comment is nt’ completely, irrelevant!!!!:)

  77. Mathilde

    I may be the only one, but I was hoping we could still get the flyovers, at a cheaper cost. The widening of the highway comes down to nothing in the face of the round-abouts, that is where the traffic builds. No one gives way to right, people just keep pushing through, you have 3 lanes on these roundabouts at times and people weaving between lanes, its absolute insanity! The only way to make the highways function the way way a highway should is to get rid of the round-abouts. I avoid the highway now and take backroads and get through faster than the poor people stuck in double lanes of 45 minute bumper to bumper from one round about to another.
    That said, the idea of a train sounds nice too, and the bicycle paths!

  78. Bimbro

    Thank you, Clivey, now what about that last one on the 12th, it’s not so bad!!

    Release me, my darling, let me go, let me go, let me gooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

    Thank you, folks and goodnight!! 🙂

  79. Bimbro

    Dear BFP, I am still at a loss to comprehend the baffling, psychology of a person who said he lived in a country for ten years where public transport was both free and worked perfectly, yet would n’t tell us the name of the town. As a more typical, Barbadian than I am, could you assit me to understand the mindset of such a person which to me seems stupid, to say the least, and lunatic at worst?


    BFP says,

    Bimbro, if there is one thing I have learned in life it is that people seldom even know their own motivations, so in the majority of cases it becomes impossible to even guess at what drives others.

    For instance, you seem to focus on personal attacks against other readers rather than debating their ideas. Even when you are proven right or have bested another reader in some sparing match you cannot move on without trying to extract more blood.

    Is your life so that you revel in the hollow victories of verbal sparing and name-calling with other anonymous persons?

    Please give us all a break.

    Thank you.


  80. Bimbro

    Bimbro, if there is one thing I have learned in life it is that people seldom even know their own motivations, so in the majority of cases it becomes impossible to even guess at what drives others.


    Rob, thanks for that, bro!! It cracked me up! “People don’t know their own motivations!!” In other words, moas people mad!!!!:) I’ll have to remember that one, Rob! Now I really am worried!!!!


    For instance, you seem to focus on personal attacks against other readers rather than debating their ideas. Even when you are proven right or have bested another reader in some sparing match you cannot move on without trying to extract more blood.


    Thanks for saying that I’d defeated him in the argument, Rob. I did this without even realising it and was thinking that I had n’t even discovered the name of the city to debate it with him in case it was a town with which I was familiar and could therefore argue the pros and cons of his point of view, so for me to have defeated him without even realising it, is some considerable achievement, on my part!

    Inspite of defeating him I should still love to know, purely from an academic point of view, the name of the city. One of the reasons for visiting and participating in this blog is also to obtain information, not only to impart it!


    Is your life so that you revel in the hollow victories of verbal sparing and name-calling with other anonymous persons?

    Please give us all a break.


    Ok, Rob, I simply did n’t realise that I’d won, but I accept your word for this! If any kind soul would be good enough to inform me of the name of the particular, city I should be most grateful!!

    Ok, Rob, I’ll accept your advice and now give it a rest!!

    Cheers and have a nice day!! Hope u liked my song, above!!!! 🙂

  81. J. Payne

    Barbados probably couldn’t do Subway due to the likelihood that the mixing of concrete and so on underneath the islandcould end up polluting the ground water. Plus the Sea water would give the island a relatively high water-table… Subway that isn’t burried deep enough also shakes buildings above with vibration…..

    Barbados would likely have to switch fully to using Sea water for drinking water… (Desal plants)… Elevated monorail is more likely in Barbados. Disney has had great success with their monorail and mind you Florida has a similar climate to Barbados plus- Florida has a mostly limestone base where Florida’s aquafirs (drinking waters) is located. Monorail doesn’t take much room. Since they are powered by electricity they have no fumes so you can even– place the stations for the elevated monorail inside- enclosed buildings on the 2nd or 3rd floor… The electric powered motors would only emit a little bit of heat.

    About monorails

  82. Inkwell


    You started this blog with the words:
    “The new Government of Barbados came into office to find the treasury raped bare by 15 years of borrow and spend to fund a host of costly and incomplete “super projects” that did little for the ordinary citizen or the country”.

    “Treasury raped bare by 15 years of borrow and spend” seems to have been directly contradicted and disproven by the statement of the Governor of The Central Bank as reported in today’s press.

    She said that after a rate of growth of 3.5 to 4.5 per cent between 2004 and 2007, Barbados’ economy had slowed, but growth in 2008 was still expected to be in the region of 2.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    The country has a record $1.7 billion of foreign exchange reserves, and there remained liquidity in the system.

    “We still have a very low external debt ratio, so despite the challenges, we are well positioned, but we do need to concentrate on fiscal containment.”

    Would you care to comment? Your analysis seems strangely at odds with what the Governor characterized as a “stable economy”


    BFP says,

    Your view is a little myopic, don’t you think? You brag about the foreign exchange reserves but fail to mention that the reserve has been topped up time and time again by …. borrowing!!!

    What was the national debt when the BLP government assumed power?

    What was the national debt when they were tossed out?

    And as far as the “super projects” that didn’t do any good for the ordinary Bajan, you don’t seem to disagree with us there.

    There are tough times ahead for Barbados. Very tough times.

    But there was no saving during the last government, and little meaningful investment in infrastructure.

    Not to mention the incredible levels of corruption that drove over-budget projects into the stratosphere time and time again.

  83. Straight talk


    The governor says “We still have a very low external debt ratio”, and you say excellent.

    Questions I’d like answering are :-
    What is the level of internal debt?
    Who are these internal creditors?

    If as I suspect the main source of borrowing is the NIS, have we have mortgaged our pensions to a profligate administration and its super-projects?

  84. Thomas Gresham

    This is an important public policy issue that I do not think everyone understands becuase it is also more complex than it used to be and has become needlessly politicised.

    The key measure of debt sustainability is the ratio of the amount it costs to service your foreign currency debt in a year (interest payments) on one hand, over the amount of foreign currency revenues the country receives from its exports (goods and services like tourism) on the other. This is called the debt service ratio. On this measure our debt service ratio is around 5%. As the Governor remarked on Tuesday,this is pretty low and it has fallen from 15% over the past 14 years or so.

    The reason why external debt (foreign currency denominated) is the key one to look is because if we get into trouble there is little we can do except default on the debt (or restructure it) which would undermine our credit rating and it make it difficult and costly to borrow again. We can’t tax or print US dollars.

    If we run into difficulties with internal debt (Barbados $ denominated) the government has more options – it can raise taxes, reduce expenditure and even print some more Barbados dollars.

    The reason why our overall debt position is not so bad is that the previous government’s super projects were “PFI” projects.

    This was not unique to this govenrment. This is the way most infrastructure expenditure was financed over the past 20 years around the world, in part because interest rates were low and the private sector companies were able to borrow. I think all UK hospitals over the past 20 years were financed in this way. I think the current government is looking at a PFI scheme to finance the refurbishment of the QEH.

    Under PFI, the private sector company takes out the debt in order to build and service the infrastructure, to some set of standards, in return for a commitment from the govenrment to pay an annual figure. It is like a lease payment. Leasing equipment and infrastructure spreads out the government’s obligations often over 10 to 20 years, and is clearly cheaper than buying it all upfront. It allows governments to build alot more infrastructure than if they had to pay for it all upfront in year one.

    The drawback is that as along as the private sector fulfills its part of the bargain in terms of service delivery etc, the government has a long-term obligation and over time it may regret that obligation. You can imagine that over 20 years or so, you may want to change what you do with hospitals because medical technology or practice has changed. This is more an issue for hospitals where practices do change than for schools, roads and prisons or any building you see with the same use as it had 20, 30 or more years ago. In other words, PFI provides more opportunities, but we still need to think carefully about how we exploit these opportunities.

    I do not think that the NIS have bought much of the debt of these PFI projects. I noticed that BNB was selling some of the Highway debt incurred by the private companies to private pension funds so, you never know, you may own some of it yourself!

  85. Inkwell

    BFP, my view is not myopic and I am not bragging about anything. I am simply challenging your allegation that the previous government raped the treasury bare. You have provided no evidence to support your claim and indeed it has been clearly refuted by none other than the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, (or does she still fear being fired by Owen Arthur).

    It is not my intention to defend the previous administration, but you have gone beyond the limits of truth and honesty. Further allegations of corruption have nothing to do with, nor do they invalidate my specific comment.

    I guess Owen Arthur also bribed the IMF, Standard and Poors and Moodys to get them to give the Barbados economy high ratings, along with everybody at the United Nations Development Programme which recently ranked Barbados No. 1 in the Caribbean in its annual Human Development Report.


    BFP says,

    1/ What is our current national debt?

    2/ What was it when the BLP took office?

    3/ And yes, let’s have the parallel bookkeeping system that any business with integrity would have kept during the change-over.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree, Inkwell.

  86. Hants

    From a letter to the Nation. Did you write this BFP?
    “The David Thompson administration is therefore on the right track as regards a Declaration of Assets Bill and forensic audits.

    It would also not be a bad thing if the Government speeds up the process of conducting the promised manpower and efficiency audits. Given recent comments by the Auditor-General about critical information relating to the $4 million-facility at Vauxhall not being found, and the lack of cooperation from ministries and government departments, the Ministry of Social Care and especially the National Assistance Board where it seems clear that systems of accountability are badly lacking, would be the perfect places to start.”

  87. Inkwell

    Why do you keep harping on the size of the national debt? What is important as has been pointed out by Thomas Gresham and I quote him as you appear not to have read …..or understood it:

    “The key measure of debt sustainability is the ratio of the amount it costs to service your foreign currency debt in a year (interest payments) on one hand, over the amount of foreign currency revenues the country receives from its exports (goods and services like tourism) on the other. This is called the debt service ratio. On this measure our debt service ratio is around 5%. As the Governor remarked on Tuesday,this is pretty low and it has fallen from 15% over the past 14 years or so.”

    To put it in simple terms, if you borrow $100,000 and you have to repay $2,000 out of an income $8,000 a month, your debt service ratio is 25% and you are in a considerably worse position than the guy who borrows $300,000 and pays $3,000 out of an income of$20,000, though his debt is higher. His debt service ratio is 15% and it stands to reason that a person can more easily make a loan payment which represents 15% of his income as opposed to one which represents 25%.

    Commercial banks base much of their personal loan portfolios on DSR’s in the 30% to 35% range, so you can see that for a country a DSR of 5% is quite low. It should also give you pause for thought that the Central Bank Governor says that Barbados’ DSR has REDUCED from 15% to the present 5% over the past 15 years. So ask yourself the question, where was the national debt in 1994 when the BLP took over? The country certainly wasn’t earning more from its foreign earning productive sectors than it does now.

    Or do you still want to let emotion conquer reason?


    BFP says,

    DSR is fine during the fat times, but Barbados is about to learn a hard lesson about DSR.

    Not to mention we’re missing probably close to a billion dollars in monies that simply evaporated. Start with Kensington Oval and move on to GEMS, then continue down the road to Dodds Prison and hang a right at the Greenland dump.

    And so on.

  88. Inkwell

    Your tactics in avoiding and obfuscating the issue and your refusal to respond to the exposure of a clear bias on your part are not worthy of a junior high school debater… plain for all to see.

    The fact that Barbados’ DSR is low should assist it greatly in weathering the coming stormy seas. My reservation, expressed even before the election if you recall, is whether the new captain has the navigating skills required.

    Please, have the last word.

  89. I have been reading yr blogs over the last couple of days re: transport/ZR.. I find myself in a unique position,I started off as a ZR owner driver in the early 90s until 2001. I left the biz & migrated to the UK, Right now i work for a very efficent Co. in the affulent South West. Running the buses out here is very similar to running a ZR………fast 10min service as Cheap & fair to the passengers. The only thing I would like to see for the ZR drivers is a bit of education & training similar to what I recieved in Britain & also coming from the ZR culture Iv been able to show some rude workmates simple little things ie: leaving people at freezin dark bus stops,whereas I would NEVER do that. (ZR CULTURE TING AGAIN), Not to be rude to immigrants who’s grasp of english isnt to ta-la-la. Plenty more to say… back soon.

  90. The private auto is wasteful and dangerous. In addition it is heavily subsidized. Who is paying for the carbon dioxide emissions and subsequent climate change damage? Who pays for the oil wars? Pain and suffering from collisions? By implementing free transport, those who still need a car can still have one, but we would not have the whole society dependent on it.

  91. J. Payne

    Subway would be an interesting investment. This would have a number of negative effects on Barbados. 1) Ground water. When they dig those tunnels lots of different chemicals tend to be used to keep the heads on the cutter from getting to hot. Also Barbados is a low-lying island already as it is and as it is said if all the Polar icecaps melt by the end of this century (as it is predicted) the sea levels would rise up to the armpit on the Statue of Liberty. That might just leave some of the islands’ interior left. Perhaps Mt. Hillaby?

    An above ground aerial monorail might by a better way to go. It would last a bit longer… Australia has been a pioneer in this technology. One nice aspect about monorails is like subways they can run totally off electricity meaning their motors are not fossil fuel burning. That means they can drive into building-enclosed terminals or stations. Which is a nice feature, it means you can build stations into the 2nd or 3rd floors of buildings and so on and not have to worry about people getting carbon monoxide poisoning.

    I mean for example you could have a station built somewhere into a 2nd or 3rd floor at the Airport for example, which could whisk people right to town via the median of the ABC Highway or Highway 7 or the like. Hotels that want “in” on the project in exchange for helping to sponsor construction on the project can have a station/stop at the edge of their resorts. The Barbados government also likes to do “homeporting” agreements where people fly to Barbados to board a ship at the Deep Water Harbour- well Barbados could have a route going from the airport up to the West Coast with a stop at the port. Sure this all would cost billions but if you gon go the route of Subway you could as well go Monorail and integrate it into buildings and so on. Monorails are no heaver than cars and their track is merely a steelbeem encased in concrete.

  92. ru4real

    Monorails cost
    If wunna moan at the cost of flyovers ( and monorails will need lots of them ) they will have a field day at the cost of monorails