A toll on housing
As the urbanised area of St Andrew continues its inexorable spread westwards, living in houses that are most easily accessed by using Highway 2000 has got more expensive. This not solely due to the inevitable rise in rental prices, as even those who have locked into the fixed payment of a mortgage have found it increasingly costly just to get home.
Among the earlier developments to the west of Kingston were Magil Palms, the Vineyards and Inswood. Over time have come the Aviary, Seville Meadows, Whitewater Meadows, New Harbour Village I, New Harbour Village II and Presidential Estate.
They are all affected by increased travel costs for those who go to Kingston for work or school - which is the majority of the people who live in those developments, which are essentially dormitory communities.
This is because of the increasing toll rates, the latest round of which took effect last weekend. The new prices are as follows:
Class 1: Old $330 - New $360
Class 2: Old $470 - New $520
Class 3: Old $890 - New $990
Class 1: Old $120 - New $130
Class 2: Old $180 - New $200
Class 3: Old $330 - New $360
Class 1: Old $170 - New $180
Class 2: Old $260 - New $290
Class 3: Old $520 - New $550
Class 1: Old $80 - New $90
Class 2: Old $130 - New $140
Class 3: Old $250 - New $280
In 2003, the lowest toll on the then-developed stretch of highway was $50 for Class One vehicles (which includes cars), $60 for Class Two vehicles (which includes SUVs), and $120 for Class Three vehicles (which includes buses and trucks).
From December 2006 into January 2007, construction of the first phase of the New Harbour Village housing scheme began. Toll prices in April 7, 2007, went up from $180 to $190 for Class One vehicles; from $230 to $250 for Class Two; and for Class Three, it moved from $450 up to $480.
Construction of Presidential Estates began in December 2009. Around this time, at the Spanish Town Toll Plaza, motorists driving Class One vehicles would pay $80 (up from $70), Class Two would cost $90 (up from $110) and Class Three $210 (up from $180). Motorists using the Portmore Toll Plaza would pay $120 for Class One (up from $100), Class Two would pay $170 (up from 140), and Class Three $340 (up from $280).
At the Vineyards Toll Plaza, Class One vehicles moved from $230 to $270, Class Two moved from $310 to $370, and Class Three jumped from $580 to $700.
Already in 2013 motorists were complaining. Doneath Morrison* explained that in 2007 to travel back and forth from Kingston and New Harbour Village would cost approximately $3,000 a week, but that had moved to $5,000 weekly ($20,000 monthly) for the same journey.
And now the prices have gone up even more, and although there was a break from very high gas prices last year, they have steadily crept up, adding even more burden to the commuters using the 'toll road'.
- Mel Cooke