Transportation Field Note

There are so many forms of transportation to get around Barbados. It is very interesting to understand the ways of getting around that are similar, but very different from that in the states. Often times, many people are unaware the modes of transportation in other parts of the world, but a more serious glimpse will allow others to know that people from around the world differ in their everyday aspects such as driving.

The following discussion will feature a description of the way people get around, the costs that are involved, and the way that these forms of transportation reflect the local culture. It is surprising to know that not every mode of transportation involves the collection of money the same way. Neither does every form of transportation gather or receive passengers in the same manner. Interesting enough, people are very much used to these environments as everyone uses these spaces to explore their creativity, to better be themselves and to better make use of their cultural ways. The same things that would cause tension in U.S. will not cause a lot of negative attention here for sure.

When comparing Barbados to other Caribbean islands, it is interesting to note that their roads are much more developed, although the style of getting around is a lot less jerky or shaky. I think many people will find this hard to get used to. In addition, there are certain structures on the road, which are a lot different from what I am used to living in the states. I believe that the following discussion is engaging and thoughtful. This description will help you all to better understand another country’s more specific ways of getting around that may sound typical, but not so typical. Hopefully you guys will benefit mentally from this.

There are so many modes of transportation to get around Barbados, an island that has 1,600 kilometers of road for which are all paved. Unlike many places of the other nearby countries such as Jamaica, the roads of Barbados are very smooth and relatively free of potholes and other kinds of disturbances. I have also discovered that there are areas where there are a lot of sidewalk pavements, which are more frequent than some places in Jamaica. Still, sidewalk pavements are less constructed and available than places in the United States.

Just as other countries of the British commonwealth, drivers drive on the left side of the road. This is very interesting because it requires a different type of judgment to travel safety and get around. I know that if I were to drive in Barbados, I would almost always forget to not drive on the right because I am so used to this driving style in the United States.

Since Barbados is pretty developed economically compared to many of the local islands, it is not an odd thing to realize that there are a lot of expensive, sporty American cars are on the road. There are also a lot of cheaper cars that are more specific to the Caribbean. Due to a lot of government corruption, pollutant laws are not in effect to deal with smog as a result of the wear and tear and broken parts of many cars. Even if tickets are given out by the police, the more higher up officials usually throw them out. As a result, there are plenty of different cars and vehicles on the road regardless of their condition, since people of different backgrounds use them to travel and carry on with their everyday activities.

Barbados also have various highways that are used for the same purposes as any other place. This way of getting around is useful for beating a lot of traffic that occurs sometimes in the day or night. Surprisngly, there are many roundabouts when traveling on the road for which is hard to miss. It may seem a bit tricky to go along with the flow of traffic, but everyone drives in clockwise direction. I guess that in no time, it will be pretty easy to get used to.

There are plently of buses and minibuses around the town. The government owns the larger blue buses, and these buses are available to go around the island for most parts of the day. The cost is the same for all of bus systems and such modes of transportation, which is $2 Bajan dollars, or $1 U.S. dollar. This price is pretty affordable as it is about the same or a bit cheaper when traveling through public transporation when compared to the United States. Unlike the private owned public transportation, this bus system does not give change or make money exchanges.

Public transportation is also operated through small, privately-owned “route taxis” known as “ZRs”, pronounced as “Zed-Rs”. To get around when using these vehicles usually require going through Bridgetown, which is the capital of the country which is necessary to getting to most markets and other necessary locations. The ZRs are the most commonly form of transportation on the island that takes you from any point of the island to the next. These vans are easily seen, as they are usually white and burgundy. As expected, the driver’s assistance receives passengers by talking direct to those on foot and asking about their desired destination, just like any other island of the Caribbean. This way of getting attention, may seem rude and out of the ordinary to foreigners, but this is just a cultural difference that works fine in this region. Interestingly enough, the driver usually plays music at a very loud volume, which is very entertaining. Although the music is usually diverse, drivers tend to play a lot of Jamaican music, which makes me feel more at home. Along with the music is often a lot of noise from the driver’s assistance who is usually picking up other passengers or collecting traveling fees by hand.

These private modes of transportation affects and reflects the social environment as a ghetto culture with a population of over 200,000 ethnic minorities. Based on the size of the island, and the amounts of people concentrated on this island, Barbados can be described as “a ghetto”. This culture is obviously in place by the loud music, direct way of getting a person’s attention and the hustler mentality and it becomes clearer when paying attention to the modes of transportation. And since the other forms of public transportation are a lot  less reliable and able to perform without a waste of time and effort, people are forced to use the private ones or the ZR’s.


As a back up, taxis are also available for special occasions. For example, it is often a wise idea to take a taxi after a night out, or anytime after 12:00a.m. At that time, however, it may cost a whole lot. This may be a very convenient way to get around since one does not have to wait on others being dropped off, but each person have to decide if its truly worth it. But while on an expensive study abroad program, it makes sense to save money and budget accordingly.

It is pretty easy getting around using the campus shuttle or a bus service provided for all students.  This service is free or rather these fees are paid for in advance with tuition. Since I live on campus however, I do not have to use the campus shuttle everyday like most other students who live off campus. I have heard that this bus brings students directly a center point of campus and usually a close to their apartment or rented house. The campus shuttle is also responsible for taking students around various points of the island such as places downtown and areas in Bridgetown or the capital. The shuttle can take students to places to find discount on things such as food, home appliances, and other necessary items.

Many of the more mature or older students take advantage of this service, and especially those who do not have transportation. However, many students who are of the working class drive their own cars to school. These students are able to do so because of the small student population and the fact that they do not have to pay for parking unlike my school.

My favorite way of getting around is usually with friends who have a car simply because I do not have to deal with the hassle of public transportation. Since I live on campus however, I do not need to travel as much. But I usually have a local Barbadian take me around town to look for places that have the most affordable things to get. They also serve as a guide to not only gets around more quickly, but they expose me to things that I would not know traveling by myself or with international students.


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