JIS News

The Transport Authority is promising greater efficiency in the processing of licence applications with the introduction of a new licensing management system.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Managing Director of the Transport Authority, Joan Fletcher disclosed that the Authority had, over the years been grappling with backlogs and other challenges in the licensing exercise, but this latest initiative should see an improvement in the process.
“We have a new Licence Management System now, which is so much more efficient. This year we were able to deliver renewed licences between one, ten and 15 days. So things have really improved. We are still in the first year of implementing this new system, so of course there are teething pains, but I would say the complaints that we would have in relation to renewals will be significantly reduced,” Mrs. Fletcher observed.
Persons applying for new licences often complain that the process is lengthy, however, this is not so, the Managing Director affirmed. In fact, for new applications, the timeframe for processing and delivering licences ranges from three days to seven days, but is largely dependent on the applicant’s promptness in taking the application through the necessary stages.
“When an application comes in it goes to a sub-committee of our Board [Transport Authority], who considers it. We normally try to get that done within a week. When that is done, a certificate is prepared, which the owner now takes to the Collector to get the plates assigned,” the Managing Director explained.
The next step is to apply to an insurance company to secure PPV coverage so as to be able to carry a certain number of passengers in the vehicle. This can be done after receiving the plates from the Collector or simultaneously, to expedite the process. When these are obtained, the applicant should take them back to the Transport Authority, where the approved licence is issued, a procedure that takes approximately three to seven days.
However, Mrs. Fletcher noted, “sometimes the time between issuing the certificate then going to the Collector to come back can take months because the applicants never comes back”.
On the issue of robot operators who claim that they are unable to legalise their operations because they cannot get a licence for a particular route, Mrs. Fletcher reiterated the Authority’s policy as it relates to issuing licences.
“We can only give licences for a route where the space is available. There are some persons who will only accept a licence if they are getting the route that they have asked for, and they are not willing to make allowance to go somewhere else,” she noted.”There is a limit to the number of vehicles allowed on any given route,” she continued.
This limit is determined by the Authority’s Research and Statistics Department, which examines the island’s routes with a view to determining each route’s capacity.
“They actually do surveys based on passenger demand, community movement, the size of the community and the number of vehicles that are already there. They will make a determination on whether another vehicle should be allowed on a route,” Mrs. Fletcher informed.
Citing an example, Mrs. Fletcher stated that within Kingston and St. Catherine there were approximately 400 route taxis already licensed to operate on six routes in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), as well as approximately 2,500 hackney carriage licence-holders. There are, however, areas where no licence would be issued to route taxi operators.
“The Jamaica Urban Transit Company has an exclusive licence to operate in the KMTR. There are however, some specific routes in the KMTR that they have consented to operators getting route taxi licences,” she pointed out.
This concession is made on routes along sections of Spanish Town, Portmore, Maxfield Avenue, Waltham Park Road and Jones Town.
Continuing, she mentioned the unwillingness of persons applying for a licence in the Kingston/Metropolitan Transport Region, for example, to accept a licence for any route in rural Jamaica outside the KMTR.
“So they continue to pirate on JUTC routes and then complain that they are not able to get a licence. Now we are unable to do anything about that, the fact is there are constraints and there are boundaries, and we all have to operate within them,” she said.
Whilst the Transport Authority is willing to assist persons desirous of securing a route from which to operate legally, the Authority is equally adamant to stamp out the illegal operators, Mrs. Fletcher assured. As such, the Authority’s Inspectors and Police are prepared to deal with these breaches as they become necessary.

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