The Government is determined to overhaul the public transport sector and create a system that is people-centred, safe and reliable, says Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Daryl Vaz.
He said that his vision is for public transportation to be the preferred choice for commuter movement, both for work and leisure.
“The system, therefore, ought to be characterised by efficiency, convenience, safety and security, reliability, affordability and pleasant experiences,” he noted.
The Minister was delivering the main address at the Transport Authority’s Transportation Conference 2023, held on Thursday (June 15) at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters in Mona, St. Andrew.
Part of the vision includes boosting the number of buses in the system, with the Minister indicating that he will begin the procurement process for 100 Jamaica Urban Transit Company JUTC buses as the company awaits the arrival of 75 new units, five of which are electric.
He said the system should positively impact the natural environment through the reduction of pollution and reduced traffic congestion.
Restoration of passenger rail to connect Kingston to large population centres, expansion of the services of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), and extending Montego Bay Metro to other townships, are also key elements in achieving the vision.
Minister Vaz pointed out that it is important for laws governing the sector to be up-to-date, reasonable and enforced.
“The laws must support the best interest of the commuting public, the public passenger operators who invest their time and resources to provide service, the commercial carriers who distribute goods and support manufacturing, other private motorists who share the space on our roads, and last but by no means least, the Transport Authority, the regulating arm of government for the public passenger transport services and commercial carriers,” he said.
He urged private operators in the public transportation system to comply with the Road Traffic Act.
“The culture of lawbreaking, recklessness, and lack of care for the safety of passengers must stop, and I will see to that as one of my mandates as a new Minister. It is unacceptable to see what takes place on the road on a daily basis,” he explained.
The Transportation Conference brought together various stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
Minister Vaz said public transport is an integral part of Jamaica’s economy, and bringing all the players together is critical to transforming the transportation landscape.