JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Government is continuing its thrust to ensure that students are transported to and from school safely, and efficiently.
  • The Transport Authority has partnered with the St. Catherine School Bus Association to launch an official school bus service.
  • The partnership has resulted in the research, development and implementation of standards for school bus operators by the Transport Authority.

The Government is continuing its thrust to ensure that students are transported to and from school safely, and efficiently, through the standardisation of the public school bus system.

As part of this drive, the Transport Authority has partnered with the St. Catherine School Bus Association to launch an official school bus service for the parish of St. Catherine.

The partnership has resulted in the research, development and implementation of standards for school bus operators by the Transport Authority, and an increase in the number of licences issued.

Managing Director at the Authority, Donald Foster indicates that the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing wants the Authority to replicate the St. Catherine school bus model across the island.

Manager of Finance and Planning at the Authority, Karey Rowe informs that many of its routes originated in the Portmore region, but licenses have since been acquired for other parts of the parish, moving from 20 operators to more than 50.

Data suggests that most of the approximately 504,497 students enrolled in Infant, Primary and Secondary schools across the island rely on public transportation. Figures from the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) also indicate that the majority of its concessionary fare passengers are students.

Mr. Rowe says programmes have begun in Manchester, largely precipitated by the September 2013 crash in which three students of Holmwood Technical High School were killed along the Chudleigh main road in the parish.

The team has also held preliminary talks with the Clarendon Parish Council. “Many communities are asking us to come in to organize because there is a national concern as to how we transport children across the island, so we are actually replicating that across the island,” he said.

The standards that have been implemented include: mandatory fitting of seatbelts and appropriate child restraint systems; hands free cellular phone use only; operational fire extinguishers; first aid kits and stipulations on driving hours for the operators.