Mark Cummins, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance.

Moving forward

Within the next ten years concerted steps will be taken to address transportation issues in this country, with the view of greatly improving the way in which Barbadians traverse the island and reducing traffic congestion.

That’s according to Mark Cummins, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance. He made the comment while delivering remarks at the opening ceremony of the National Consultation on Domestic Transport, which was held yesterday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, as he explained that while some of the measures and initiatives may seem farfetched at this time, they will become a reality on or before 2030.

“Barbados is a car dominant society, but recent research has shown that there is a major shift in transportation thinking and planning from a focus on the ease of movement for cars to the ease of movement of people and goods. Therefore, the concept of accessibility has to weigh heavily on minds of transport planners as they focus on ease of travel from an origin to a destination,” he said.

Cummins added, “The thinking must include multimodal movement, that is, combining more than one mode of travel, such as driving to a park and ride lot and getting on an electric bus, fully outfitted with Wi-Fi and the latest technologies [and] cycling and walking to a water taxi stop and getting on a boat.”

Adding to his comments, Minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance, Peter Phillips, said some attention must be paid to alternative approaches to minimise traffic congestion and pollution. Apart from the park and ride initiative also referred to by Cummins, Minister Phillips said another traffic management strategy getting their attention is high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, for use by vehicles with three passengers or more. He said the HOV lanes are intended to incentivise throughput, by increasing the movement of more people per car.

His comments came as he pointed to the need for a serious review of the local transport sector, which is said should help to ameliorate and innovate the sector where necessary. Phillips’ comments came as he noted that the provision of efficient transport service and infrastructure is essential to the promotion of inclusive, healthy communities and sustainable development in this country. Moreover, he noted that access to employment opportunities, education, health and other services, and obtaining benefits from those services, is dependent on the availability of a safe, affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient transport system.

Meanwhile, speaking to the significant role that the Transport Board plays in this country, he lamented that the timeliness and efficiency of the bus service they provide have been undermined by cash flow issues and an ageing bus fleet. As a result of this, he explained that bus availability has been hampered and this has affected the Board’s ability to service routes across the island, but he insisted that every effort must be made to meet the expectations and demands of commuters who depend on the service.

In an effort to improve mobility and accessibility for the general public, he indicated that the Transport Board will be implementing a number of initiatives to assist, including a cashless payment system, a fleet management system, the use of electric buses and a Transport Augmentation Project (TAP). He explained that TAP will see private minibuses helping the Transport Board service its scheduled routes. (JRT)

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