British tourist complains of dangerous bus rides “Lucky to be alive”

Barbados Bus Accidents

Dear Barbados Free Press,

So sorry to hear of yet another serious bus crash here in Barbados. I am not in the least surprised as my husband and I who are on holiday from England think ourselves lucky to be alive after a horrendous yellow bus ride last Friday!! We had lunch at Mullins Beach and were returning to Holetown when we refused to get on one bus as it was well overloaded.

We got on the next bus to find ourselves being shouted at to move back up the bus to let more people on. There was no room to move and we hung on for grim death, even the fare collector was hanging out the door! 

The driver was doing about fifty miles an hour overtaking the bus in front and braking so hard we could barely hang on. Why is this patently obvious breach of health and safety being allowed? Why are the police not around to see this happen?

The worst time to travel is after two thirty pm. I have spoken to many other holidaymakers who have also been scared to death and will not return to Barbados as they say they don’t feel safe using public transport. What a shame as this island and it’s people are lovely. Such a shame nobody cares enough to make sure this madness is policed.

(Author’s name supplied but withheld by BFP editor)

21 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Police

21 responses to “British tourist complains of dangerous bus rides “Lucky to be alive”

  1. CQ9

    Speed is a real factor in the bus accidents, but overloading and accidents resulting from loss of control and poor braking performance are increasing as the number and condition of the buses deteriorates due to the economy. I don’t ride the mini-buses at all anymore. They are right on the edge of controllability all the time. You can see and feel it.

  2. James Elmo

    Last winter we were scared witless. We’ll return to Barbados but never ride a bus or van bus there again.

  3. Scared witless

    I’d like to say that Barbados buses are no worse than Jamaican transport, but they are much worse. If you’ve been scared in Jamaica, just try two Bajan buses racing towards each other at a combined 80 miles per hour and clipping mirrors! I was there!

  4. Barbadosfan

    We sadly do agree with this! Not only is it dangerous to be on the buses but also to be on the pavement or be driving in your own car passing the buses as they hold a awfully high speed at all the time! Extremly careless driving, in Europe or any wherelse this would never be accepted! One wounders why the police do not act, or the goverment…..if they care about the tourism or people in generally?
    Also the streetracing is a big problem, at least on highway 1, the most of the overseas are complaining about late night trafficnoice, especially saturdaynights but mostly sundaynights. (A couple from Manhattan never had had so much disturbance ever!) If it just was from time to time, but it is every week, since Christmas…….and accidents, also with very tragic endings, are happening all the time.
    We just hope that our lines will help to increase the interest of those matters!
    A hopeful Barbadosfan

  5. Sue

    In all the years we have visited Barbados we have never gotten on a bus. We hire a car with Courtesy . Buses aside, we cannot help but notice how MANY accidents there are at roundabouts! We are a right hand driver country but we drive better than many in Bim.What’s up with that?

  6. just want to know

    What do you expect the police to do, when they are involved with the buses, & member of parliament & families own the buses. Ask a police officer and they will tell you it is not their job to control the buses, this was told to a member of my family.

  7. Mauva

    It is surely scary in every respect. Everyone drives too fast, too carelessly. Most country roads are poorly lit. I almost hit someone who was walking on the road last night. There is so little space to maneuver and when someone is walking at night so far off the edge of the road, wearing black or dark clothing, it can be very tricky. The amount of traffic has become so massive, all times of day and night, I am afraid that more and more tragedies are waiting to happen. I am hopeful that our police and government officials will pay attention now. Do something now please to quell the madness and the noise. Noise is coming not just from the music but from the mufflers, and motorcycles. Aye!

  8. Anonymous

    I agree with you–at the end of the day it’s politics and the police hands are tied. it’s amazing who owns those minibuses and the cutthroat that goes on. (an insider). I would advise the visitors DO NOT RIDE THE MINIBUSES. STICK TO THE TRANSPORT BOARD OR RENT A CAR. Don’t let their attitude and recklessness stop you from enjoying this beautiful Island. I am proud of my country but it breaks my heart when i hear such disturbing news and see the condition of where it is going. Love

  9. JT

    This issue of dangerous buses is becoming known. TripAdvisor has several threads going about Bajan buses and mini-buses.

    This undermines our image and our tourism brand more than a few isolated robberies or rapes.

  10. Green Monkey

    Don’t worry folks. The government has carefully examined this problem and after everyone involved put on their thinking caps, they have come up with a solution. In a few weeks all ZR drivers will be required to wear a regulation uniform. Now that’ll teach ’em that overloaded vans and wild driving will no longer be tolerated.

  11. GT

    At the south coast the problem is like this.

    1. Blue buses
    2. Yellow buses.
    3. White buses.

    And of course street racing at night.

  12. Anonymous

    Simply use the government transport bus, although they also drive too fast but one is safer there than in any mini bus or ZR.

  13. Repeat visitor

    I have been taking busses a lot recently and only one, a yellow one, was speeding. In fact, it seems to me that the busses are actually driving more slowly on the west coast highway, perhaps to be able to pick up more passengers? Or because they are scared of an accident? That being said, it is no fun to be on a bus crammed with people. I am always amazed though how orderly and calm everyone is, given the discomforts.

  14. driving me crazy

    Speed plus the narrow roads plus many vehicles make for a dangerous ride. Barbados is too crowded these days with everyone having their own car. There has been a big change in the traffic density in the last 10 years.

  15. I usually do not take public transportation but recently thought I would relax and decided to travel by government bus from Bridgetown to Speightstown, on to Belleplaine and then back to Bridgetown. After a hectic and reckless ride from Bridgetown to Speightstown, I was in for an even more harrowing and frightening experience when the bus, after passing through Hillaby, approached a sharp curve at PlumTree where I thought the bus would overturn. While some of the passengers muttered their displeasure, they seemed afraid to complain to the driver.They suffered in silence just hoping and praying nothing would happen and to reach their destination safely.”No need to ask the driver to slow down ! “He wud tell yuh ef yuh doan like my drivin’,yuh can get off de bus ! Nuhbody ain’ keepin’ yuh pun de bus !” Buses should be outfitted with “governors” which would limit their speed and control those operators who tend to be reckless. The police and courts also have a role to play in ensuring the safety and proper operation of these vehicles upon which the majority of the public depends.

  16. Lisle Watson

    All of the above comments should be sent to the Ministry of Transport and the Prime Minister.

  17. Bajan Dave

    as far as I know, there is no real PSV driving test in Barbados – if you get a job driving one of these vehicles, the owner might take you in for your PSV license on it, but like the regular car test, it is just you, your instructor and the Licensing Authority’s examiner. There is nothing to demonstrate how to drive a big vehicle with between 10 and 30 living souls of all shapes and sizes in a defensive manner, how to safely accommodate standing passengers in the case of minibuses, the right procedures for stopping and moving off from bus stops etc., or how to handle tricky situations like the ones described above with a busload of passengers. I have seen Transport Board buses with “L” plates on them over the years, and if they haven’t already done so (evidence suggests they haven’t), they can probably share some of their specialized techniques (if any) with Licensing, so they can use them when people come in for minibus, ZM, tour coach or ZR licenses.
    I remember when the case regarding the fatal bus crash on the way to Party Monarch in 2007 came up, one of the findings was that the bus had not been inspected for a while and the brakes were defective. Many moons ago (in the mid-late ‘80s when gas stations tended to have service bays), when I traveled along the south coast on a Sunday morning, there were at least three minibuses parked at every gas station along that road waiting to be serviced. The service bays have disappeared for the most part, but I wonder just how often these vehicles are serviced. All too often I have driven in ZR vans with the timing belt, oil, brake fluid and radiator warning lights BURNING, and one day the side door actually came off in the conductor’s hand when he went to open it! It seems as though the current standard is, once it has fuel in it and starts in the morning, it’s good to go. Damn the safety of the drivers and passengers! Surely some of the money they make hustling from day to day should be set aside to keep the vans in good working order? It’s a combination of the grace of God and the wonders of Toyota technology (most of the ZRs are Toyotas, and as you probably know, Hino, the minibus of choice in this market, is a subsidiary of Toyota) that has kept some of these vehicles running for so many years!

  18. I rode on a ZR from Boscobel to Speightstown with my 4 year old son and I thought that I was going to die that day. The driver was speeding through the hills and around corners at tremendous speed. It all seemed so unnecessary to me. It was a Sunday evening and I could not understand what the rush was. Drivers in Barbados perplex me because they seem to drive relatively slowly on the highway, (except the racers late at night) yet in small densely populated areas they speed.

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  21. Johnny Longshorts

    I’ve personally never had a bad experience on a minibus, I’ve been crammed into a ZR, and admittedly there are more pleasant experiences than that. I think the drivers and government/public need to come to some kind of compromise. The drivers and owners should be able to distinguish themselves with their clothes, bus decor, the music they play, but the drivers need to drive more responsibly. There is nothing wrong with a thrilling ride, but it needs to be balanced with safety. The ZRs and minibuses seem to be quite popular with most tourists, and they are a real curiosity, it would be a shame to entirely lose the character they bring to the island. Drivers, give us a thrill, but do it responsibly, and owners, please maintain your buses! It’s in your own best interest to do so as well!