- The initiative is dubbed the School Transport Programme
- The Minister further reminded the school bus drivers that they hold the fate of every child in their hands
- The launch of the programme should be seen as “an opportunity to transform the local transportation sector"
Students residing in the Portmore Municipality can now benefit from a structured and efficient transportation system, following the launch of this new service on September 18.
The initiative, dubbed the School Transport Programme, was officially rolled out during a ceremony held at the Waterford Seventh Day Adventist Church in Portmore. It is a joint venture between the Transport Authority and the St. Catherine School Bus Association.
Minister without Porfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, lauded the initiative as a “bold step in the right direction”.
“It is not every day that you will hear of a group of public transport operators in Jamaica coming together and approaching the Ministry for endorsement of a project that will not only bring order to the sector, but will specifically cater to the needs of our young ones,” he said.
He noted that the launch symbolised a refreshing and much needed transition in modernising the public transportation system.
“Furthermore, it signals a positive shift in our road use culture – a shift that will afford our students a friendlier travel environment, a safer journey to and from school, and an anxious-free state-of-mind for parents whose child will be in the hands of well known operators and a more efficient and comfortable mode of transportation,” Dr. Guy said.
The Minister further reminded the school bus drivers that they hold the fate of every child in their hands while they are in their vehicles, and as such, must adhere to the standards set out by the Transport Authority.
“I urge you to avoid the use of your cell phones while driving, obey speed limits, don’t overtake if it’s not necessary, don’t race one another on the roads, avoid lewd music, don’t overload your vehicles and ensure that students are properly secured,” he implored.
The Minister also encouraged the 42 drivers who will be providing the service “to be the epitome of professionalism and decency within the public transportation system and the standard by which others should be judged.”
In the meantime, Chairman of the Transport Authority, Norton Hinds, said that the launch of the programme should be seen as “an opportunity to transform the local transportation sector to world class standards.”
For his part, Chairman of the St. Catherine School Bus Association, Hector Rowe, described the event as historic, noting that it took much dialogue from 2004 to bring the association, which is the only one of its kind in Jamaica, to the point where it can launch this well needed service.