On board a private operated bus heading to Bridgetown
Prior to my trip to Barbados, my plan was to stay for a long time, therefore I didn’t arrive in “tourist mode”, I came with a plan to live like the ordinary Bajan, keeping costs as low as possible so my money could go a long way. For starters, my Airbnb at St. Philip for the first two weeks cost US$30 a night (the cheapest I could find), I didn’t rent a car (which cost around US$75 a day during peak season without full insurance as I was told upon inquiry, insane!) and so I took the bus around town. I didn’t visit any “shmancy fancy” restaurants just yet or take the usual rum punch tours and sea adventures most tourists indulge in. Based on this, in this post, I will be writing about low-budget transportation around Barbados, how to get around like the average Barbadian without a car and on a budget.
For the first two weeks, I visited Bridgetown by taking the bus from St. Philip to B-Town and unlike in Israel where you have a small screen by the bus-stop showing you the arrival time of the bus which always comes on time, in Barbados you just get to the bus station and wait until a bus shows up and wait times could range from 5-50mins. Crazy!…
The wait time drove me a bit nuts and sort of explained the “island time” phenomenon which truly takes some getting used to. Also, on entering the bus, you’ll be lucky to find a place to sit, otherwise you’ll have to stand and hold the rail. As a 5’1 shorty, holding the rail while the bus flies down the narrow road could be quite tough as I have to really stretch and exert myself to avoid falling on my face. On the bus, expect to see a lot of people standing and packed like sardines, speaking of which; in a bus with say 34 seats, the usual number of people standing could range from 5 to 25 so you can imagine how full the buses could get. Phew!
Bridgetown has two Bus Terminals; Fairchild Street Bus Terminal which is run by the government (Barbados Transport Board) and Constitution River Terminal is private operated, with buses and taxis available (map locations and images below)
The government buses are blue with white and yellow stripes, they have no conductor on board and you need to have the exact bus fee with you as you get on board because you have to put the money in a fixed money box. This way, the driver doesn’t handle any money from passengers and therefore he can’t give you change. After payment, you get your ticket from the driver. (Pictures below)
The private buses however are mostly yellow with blue stripes and have a conductor that works with the driver. The conductor could be a man or a woman with a name tag whose job is to collect the bus fare from passengers and offer change where necessary, however they don’t offer tickets upon payment. For both buses, you have to pay B$3.50 or US$1.75 standard regardless of how far you’re going.
Private operated bus on the street in Barbados
The constitution river terminal also has taxis along with the private buses which run at around the same price.
Like anywhere else in the world, Monday- Friday morning is rush hour and during this time the buses are usually packed full. Between 2pm and 4pm is also rush hour as students are returning home from school, likewise workers are returning home from work. So if you plan on taking the bus as a tourist, the best time to hit the road in the morning is either very early at 6:30am or between 9am and 11am, and in the afternoon it’s best to catch the bus between 12pm and 2pm as there are fewer passengers at the terminals.
It is important to check the destination of your Bus in order to wait at the right terminal gate at the station and make sure to check the windshield of the bus for a sign that says where the bus is headed. Just like in most places around the world, buses head towards a final destination and pass through areas along the route and passengers drop off at their bus stop by ringing a bell on the bus.
Once, on my way to St. Philip, I entered the wrong bus going to St. Patricks instead of Bayfield and I ended up paying double the Bus fare as I had to catch a second bus from Six roads which is a popular Six Roads junction where you can catch a bus going to most places on the island. Sucked!
Pro-tip: On the Buses, keep in mind that very loud Caribbean & Nigerian music is a normal thing you have to deal with. Sometimes, the music could get so loud that you might get a bit irritated at first but after sometime, you’ll get used to it. I always thought that maybe the Barbadians need the super loud hype music to get them prepared for yet another day on the Island or maybe its just their rum substitute during work hours, no one knows. One time the music was so loud that I almost stood up to tell the driver to turn the music down, but apparently it’s the lifestyle and like they say, when in Rome, you deal with the loud ass music and just nod along to the jams like the “Romans” do.
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PS: The information provided on this page is based solely on my personal experiences, is prone to change and should not be considered as legal advice. Five foot nomad is not liable for any misrepresentation or misinterpretation of any and all posts on its website.
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