Letter of the Day | Public transportation failing Portmore
THE EDITOR, Madam:
I am writing this letter out of frustration, and I am sure the majority of Portmore residents are facing the same problem. The citizens of Portmore have struggled with an inadequate transportation system for a long time and, despite echoing concerns year after year, this issue has been left unresolved and unaddressed.
The main issues with the transportation system include, but are not limited to, irregular schedules and overcrowded buses which cause excessive wait times and lateness for the citizens of Portmore.
The frustrations with the transportation system reached its peak with the 2015 ban on granting or renewing licences for some public passenger vehicles (PPV) to operate from Portmore to the Kingston and St Andrew Metropolitan Area (KSMA) and vice versa. This ban came to fruition based on assertions from the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) that, at the time, they had the means to adequately meet the transportation needs of Portmore.
Understandably, the demand for adequate and effective transportation has drastically increased since 2015, but neither the Ministry of Transport and Mining nor the JUTC has implemented any steps to deal with this increase in demand.
The failure of the JUTC to meet our transportation needs, the 2015 ban that is seemingly still effective, and the transport ministry’s failure to address same, means that they are not fulfilling its statutory obligation to provide “an integrated and efficient transport system”.
We are aware that several taxi companies offer their services. However, this is not accessible and affordable by many of Portmore’s pedestrians. Additionally, we are cognisant of the various deficiencies which account for JUTC’s shortfall in supplying adequate transportation and meeting our transport needs.
Therefore, we are suggesting that the ban mentioned herein, if still in place, be lifted and that the ministry incentivises the licensing and renewal procedure. We believe that this would reduce the strain on the JUTC to provide the main, and in some cases the only, means of transport for Portmore citizens, and would be a great start in alleviating the adverse effects of the current transport system.
Additionally, there are instances where citizens feel compelled to take robot taxis or minibuses from Portmore to the KSMA and vice versa, which are unsafe. Therefore, we propose that the ministry formalises the operation of taxis and minibuses by granting licences to these PPV operators to do same. This would lead to a greater increase in PPV registrations, adherence to various laws, and the provision of alternative and cost-efficient transportation means for the citizens.
While we do not expect these changes to take place overnight or that the issues mentioned herein would immediately be resolved, we believe that, if the ministry and its minister act and implement these recommendations, it will assist in offsetting some of the grievances while working to uphold and discharge their statutory duty.
We anticipate their most prompt action and hope for the most positive results of same.