Prime Minister Bruce Golding opened the long-anticipated Municipal Transport Centre in downtown Kingston on Saturday (January 15), with strong support from both commuters and transport operators.
Mr. Golding described the opening of the centre and the new public transportation system envisaged by the Transport Authority to go with it as, “a significant advance in the rationalization of public transportation in downtown Kingston”.
Transport Operators welcomed the development as a major improvement over previously existing facilities for the private buses and route taxis, and members of the public celebrated the new shuttle service which will take them to and from the centre every four to eight minutes.
Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Mike Henry, urged the cooperation of the respective public transport operators, as the Government works to restore dignity to the system.
“Although the vision of transportation is to add dignity, it is also to recognize those drivers who are involved with robots to become legal; to ensure they get their routes, to ensure that the routes work according to the productivity that must flow,” Mr. Henry said.
The minister emphasized the need for a seamless flow of commute. This flow, he noted, is part of the connectivity that the new downtown Kingston transportation system seeks to offer, through the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Shuttle Service, which will ensure seamless movement.
The Shuttle system will be offered daily between the hours of 5 a.m. and 11 p.m., connecting the three major termination points – Terminal One, Water Lane, Pechon Street and Parade – with major routes. Commuters are promised a waiting period of four minutes during peak hours and six to eight minutes in off peak hours.
Mr. Henry said that this vision will continue to unfold through upcoming announcements about the railway, and its part in the vision of a multi-modal transportation system.
He noted that the newly opened facility, and the launch of the new system, is the first phase of a process, and encouraged persons to support the system as it goes through the “teething pains” over coming days.
“In the final analysis, it is the citizens of Kingston and the citizens of Jamaica who will ensure that we can produce the kind of transportation system that is related to the kind of city that we are,” he noted.
The implementation of the new transportation system forms part of phase one of a 20-year development plan, being spearheaded by the UDC. This phase has already seen the construction of a bus park, the upgrading of the St. William Grant Park and improvements to the market district.
Pointing to the key role that the downtown market district will play in the redevelopment process and the economic growth of the nation, General Manager of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Joy Douglas, highlighted that the market district was not just an area of vending, “but the largest business incubator in the English-speaking Caribbean.”
“The system that we have very carefully examined, crafted and which is a work in progress, is in fact intended to rebuild downtown Kingston, and bring attention to the tremendous economic and investment opportunities that exist downtown,” she said.
She assured the nation that within a few months of the new transportation system, persons can expect to “see a continued rapid improvement in the system in Downtown Kingston and in the investment climate of downtown Kingston.”
Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie, praised the efforts of the UDC as the lead agency in the renewal, and pledged his continued support of the redevelopment initiative. The Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) will manage the Transport Centre.
CONTACT: LATOYA PENNANT/BALFORD HENRY