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Observer senior reporter

Friday, August 18, 2017

SINCE Monday, the Transport Authority (TA) has been providing information on more than 200 stage carriage routes available for prospective transport operators.

The TA — which has responsibility for regulating and monitoring of public transportation — announced that, in tandem with the routes' availability, some 3,683 routes are now available for taxis.

According to the TA, the routes are being reopened “to satisfy the increased demand for legally operated public transportation services and to encourage illegal operators to get registered”.

TA's Communications Coordinator Merdina Callum said the reopening forms part of the agency's strategy to build a people-centred public land transportation system.

“Commuters have been requesting transportation in certain areas. Those areas are under-serviced. They probably have taxis or buses, but they are not enough or not operating in a timely manner,” she told Jamaica Observer's Auto magazine.

The move follows recent warnings from Transport and Mining Minister Mike Henry that “the rule of law must prevail in the operation of the public transportation system”.

“We have to be mindful that we cannot flout the law whenever it pleases us, or accommodate those who are operating illegally at the expense of those who are obeying the rules,” Henry warned private transport operators in Montego Bay, St James, recently.

He said the ministry has been facilitating dialogue between members of the transport authority and operators of public passenger vehicles, in order for the operators to have a better understanding of the traffic laws.

He said that unlicensed taxis continue to be a “sour point” as they undermine the operations of the legal taxi operators.

As it relates to use of bike taxis in western Jamaica, Henry said he had met with operators in Hanover and Negril, where he voiced concerns about their operations, while giving a listening ear to their grouses.

“The first thing that I tell them is that before any constructive dialogue can go any further, they have to ensure that they are not only licensed to be on the road, but must also be in compliance with everything, including the wearing of helmets, both for the rider and outrider,” he said.

The newly reopened routes will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the quota has been met.

For taxi routes outside of Kingston and St Andrew, applicants should visit their nearest Route Taxi Association. Those in Kingston and St Andrew (except for the route downtown – Chisholm Avenue), the applicant should visit the Transport Authority's Head Office).

In terms of the rural stage carriage (buses), the routes will also be available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the quota has been met.

The applicants have also been reminded that the Motor Vehicle Age Requirement for new road licence, takeover service and change of vehicle applications has been amended to 20 years for motorcars.

However, motorcars more than 15 years require a Structural Safety Report (SSR) from the Island Traffic Authority (ITA).