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Relocation of rural buses in downtown Kingston suspended

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rural transport operators are breathing a sigh of relief following the decision by Transport and Mining Minister Mike Henry to suspend the recent decision to relocate their downtown Kingston terminus.

Henry told the Jamaica Observer that he had taken a decision to put off the planned relocation to the Downtown Municipal Transport Centre on Water Lane, pending further discussions.

He said that the decision followed talks he had with the Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams and other stakeholders.

The move, which had been planned to start on July 25, was postponed to August 19. The Transport Authority said then that operators who failed to adhere to the specified terminal points would suffer sanctions, as that would be contrary to the conditions of their road licences.

The rural buses — from Manchester, St Catherine, St Elizabeth and Westmoreland, currently enter downtown Kingston via Spanish Town Road and park at the Darling Street bus terminus. The Transport Authority had planned to re-route them to Industrial Terrace, Marcus Garvey Drive and to terminate at the Downtown Municipal Transport Centre on Water Lane which is owned by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation.

Opposition spokesman on transport, Mikael Phillips, has blamed the decision to allow the rural buses into the city as the primary reason for the congestion downtown.

Phillips said that the decision was “ill-conceived” and was taken without a study of the impact that the move would have on downtown traffic.

“We are not going ahead with using the municipal transport centre. I am not going to upset people, there are problems there and the security is not our responsibility, and you must recall that the JUTC did not take it over after it was built. It doesn't fit into the multi-modal transport policy,” Henry told the Caribbean Business Report.

However, he admitted that the decision was an effort by the Transport Authority to deal with traffic issues which have been created downtown since the rural minibuses were allowed to terminate in Kingston, instead of Spanish Town.

Henry said that this issue would be addressed when the Ministry of Transport and Mining goes into a three-day retreat, which starts on August 29.

“We are going to look at all the strategic needs that have to be addressed, and discuss all the various elements that contribute to the public transport system,” he said.