St Lucia: Prime Minister Philip J Pierre, and the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport, led by Senior Minister Stephenson King and Permanent Secretary Ivor Daniel staged another round of discussions with the National Council on Public Transport (NCOPT).
The NCOPT’s contingent consisted of approximately 40 members of the organization’s General Council, representing 24 minibus associations. Thursday’s meeting sought to discuss and seek consensus on three main areas of interest:
• The establishment of a disciplinary committee for minibus operators
• Concessions and exemptions, amid inflation and the rising cost of operations
• A bus fare increase.
Following the open, amicable and successful round of talks, the Government of St Lucia and the NCOPT agreed in principle to the following:
1. Finalization of the 2013 bus fare review with a view of adopting the new rates in July 2022.
2. Continuation of existing duty-free concessions on vehicles for minibus operators.
3. Continuation of the waiver of route permit fees for another term.
4. Establishment of a disciplinary committee.
In addition, the Department of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport, along with the Road Transport Board, are in the process of implementing the Sustainable Road Based Transport Study. Funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the study will examine the new organization of bus routes, changes in the tariff system, fleet renewal, new standards for bus stands, and regulation changes to improve the public transport system to meet the needs of users.
The plan would be developed through an inclusive, participatory process, implemented through a set of workshops and surveys that will gather opinions and requirements of users, bus drivers, the respective associations, vulnerable groups and other stakeholders. The project aims to develop strategies for a public transport system that is safe, reliable, affordable, comfortable, produces low or zero carbon emissions, is socially inclusive, is gender-responsive and accessible to vulnerable persons.
There are five objectives:
1. Review the policy, institutional and regulatory structures for operating public transport
2. Identify operational measures to improve the efficiency and quality of public transport
3. Develop recommendations for improved public transport infrastructure
4. Provide support to Government’s work on E Mobility consistent with the framework of the Regional Electric Vehicle Transition Strategy
5. Promote the use of public transport, noting the numerous social benefits.
Expectedly the exercise will be completed by November 2022, with the view to the implementation of the strategy by January 2023. The Government of Saint Lucia remains committed to the provision of a safe, affordable and efficient public transportation system for all citizens.