Our Current Failed Vision Of Barbados Transportation, Society and Daily Life
If you think our roads are crowded now, if you think that your time spent getting to and from work or school is unreasonable, if you think our quality of life and environment in Barbados is heading for the suckwell – just close your eyes and picture how Barbados will look after another ten or fifteen years of continuing to implement the same transportation “solution” of more cars, more roads, wider roads and ever more cars.
Is that where you want to see Barbados in the year 2025?
Unless we get some vision and leadership around this place, that is exactly where Barbados is headed.
In 1995, Barbados had a total of 55,668 vehicles on the island, of which 42,821 were private cars. By 2005, only ten years later, the number of vehicles had doubled to 116,675 of which 94,496 were private as opposed to buses, taxis, zr’s etc. (Thanks to Linda at My Barbados Blog. Where are you, Linda? We miss you.)
In 1995 Barbados had 55,668 vehicles on the island. By 2005, the number doubled to 116,675
How many vehicles do we have today in Barbados? We weren’t able to find any newer statistics than those quoted by Linda, but you can bet the number hasn’t gone down in the last four years.
Despite the fact that this out of control proliferation of private vehicles is spoiling the value of Barbados as a tourist destination, successive governments have devoted virtually 100% of transportation expenditures in support of ever increasing numbers of vehicles. Flyovers and more and wider paved roads are all we ever hear from government.
Friends, we can never build “enough” roads in Barbados if we continue to allow the number of vehicles to increase. Never.
But thanks to the DLP and the BLP, the only transportation option for Bajans is to drive on the crowded roads in a car, a bus or mini-bus – all competing for the same piece of pavement.
Stop Spending On New Roads – Start Spending On New Forms Of Public Transit
“Let’s just pave over the whole damn island” seems to be the motto of both the current DLP and the previous BLP governments.
All the good intentions in the world, and Bajan government officials attending environmental conferences in Greenland and Switzerland will do nothing to stop this private car insanity in Barbados. We must start spending our money to provide real solutions – instead of creating more problems.
How much good did it do for Barbados when Owen Arthur and Mia Mottley spent half a billion dollars for a few weeks of cricket? Would we not have been better off spending that money on starting a new light-rail transit system for Barbados? Instead of widening the ABC, we could have spent the money building vehicle parking lots outside the city and implementing a rapid commuter system to the city core.
More vehicles and more roads is foolish. It reminds me of that old definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different outcome.
Puffing Billy: Nostalgia, Or Visions Of The Future?
Ian Bourne got us thinking about light rail transit with his excellent article Puffing Billy – History of the Barbados Railway Pleads for Revival of Old Service.
Then we read Jane Shatuck Hoyos’ article about our old horse-drawn trams Is it Time to Bring Back the Past in Barbados?
While we don’t think we need any more horse manure on the streets (especially near Parliament), we do think that a system of light rail public transit throughout the island combined with free and secure parking at major transportation nodes away from the city is the only solution that would really accomplish anything worthwhile for the future.
To be successful, a light rail transit system would have to be frequent, convenient, reliable, clean and safe. It wouldn’t have to go everywhere on the island, but as a start it would make sense to use the old Puffing Billy trackbed where possible if for no other reason than cost. Allen Morrison has put up a website display called The Tramways of Bridgetown Barbados that has the old tramway and Puffing Billy system maps. (Thanks to Planet Barbados for the tip on that one.)
You’ll hear all sorts of reasons why light rail transit can’t be successful in Barbados, and when you hear those arguments ask the speaker what alternative they propose. Unless they have invented a Star Trek transporter, the only “solution” they can offer is more vehicles competing for the same piece of pavement.
Let’s stop this insanity. Do we have any real leaders out there willing to say enough is enough?