Call to make port fares clear

Some taxi drivers in Lower Broad Street, Bridgetown, have asked for signs showing taxi fares to be placed in their area.

They said that this would provide clarity for visitors who query the differences between their rates and those of the Port Authority Taxi Service.

Operator Roger Broome said the taxi fare of those operating from the Bridgetown Port into The City is US$2 per person, while those who operate from the taxi stand charge US$10 from The City to the port.

“We are not getting business because of the miscommunication from the port authorities, not telling the people what the fare is going back to the Port. That’s our biggest issue. They need to let the people know that it is US$10 back to the port for a taxi from here. The signs need to be placed in the Bridgetown Port, saying US$10 back to the ship and that kind of thing – that’s all we need, and they need to put it in other languages,” he said.

Another taxi operator, going by the nickname “The Godfather”, said the confusion often means loss of business, since visitors are accustomed to the price of US$2 per head offered by the port and believe that to be the correct rate.

“There are some issues that need to be addressed so tourists don’t feel like we’re trying to pull wool over their eyes concerning the price. Because we wouldn’t like to have a reputation where tourists come to Barbados, and, because of a misunderstanding due to a language barrier, think that we are scammers.

“Tourism is a very competitive business across the world. Our product is unique and we need to do what we can to help it go from strength to strength,” he said.

The drivers also pointed out that the taxi drivers from the port make matters worse by parking in their stations at Lower Broad Street, and poaching their potential customers with their price of US$2 per head.

 “Mark The Taxi Man” feels this creates an unfair playing field as they are prohibited from doing the same in the Port.

“I don’t mind how another man does his business but at least they should have something for us because the same way they can come up here, we should be able to come up there. We getting unfair,” he said.

According to the projections released by the Bridgetown Port Authority, a record 9 089 visitors came into the island on Thursday via cruise liners. Mark noted that for regular taxi drivers, these figures rarely yield a profitable business.

“When the tourist season is done, you hear everybody, ‘Oh, we make however many millions’.
You hear the companies saying it was a good tourist season, we made $4.9 million, but we can’t even say we got $2 000.

“Every year it recurring. We don’t get anything . . . . The best days in taxiing were when you could go through the Port, and now they want to put the poor man out,” he said, adding that the business is the worst it has been in his 24 years of work. So much so, that his resignation from the job is nearly assured.

When contacted, president of the Bridgetown Port Taxi Coop Society Limited, Stephen Cox, said these claims that Port taxis were not supposed to operate in or park in Bridgetown were untrue.

“Any taxi can go into Bridgetown. Once it’s marked Taxi, Z, or ZM, it can go to Bridgetown, Lower Broad Street, Upper Broad Street, middle of Broad Street, on top of Broad Street – anywhere.

“It is also those same taxis complaining that are up at the port gate, in the same port area, soliciting for fares and getting fares, so their point can’t stand anyway. If they don’t want us to come up there, they should not be coming here,” Cox said.

Taxi operator Andre Layne said he didn’t share the same problems with the port taxis as his Broad Street colleagues, adding that the groups needed to be more unified in tackling matters that affected them both.

“Taximen need to unify themselves, they need to be together, and, yes, you got to understand that they working with the port, and it has come to the time where taxis cannot come into the port anymore.

“At the end of the day, we are all taxi drivers. Some work at the port, some work at the airport, so we have to be able to understand that you have to respect a person’s territory,” he said.

Matters such as road tax and fuel ease for drivers are chief among a number of issues on which he believes drivers should place their focus.

“We shouldn’t be paying road tax because we go to the pump too often, so that $250 should be just wiped out. The reality of it is that a private man pays road tax through the pump, but he can put down his car and catch the bus for the whole week. This is our bread and butter and I think that’s where the Government has to ease us to a point,” Layne said.

Taxi driver Don Husbands, who is stationed at Heroes Square, said the season was unexpectedly quiet and business was much slower than they expected.

“The season hasn’t been all of that ‘A’ season that you would expect. You used to get a lot of work but the people . . . they just walking – it’s not profitable. It’s unexpected, I can’t say why,” he said.

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