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No toll on large vehicle sales - ADA head does not expect reclassification impact

Published:Sunday | January 31, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Motorists in lines as they approach the toll booth on the Portmore leg of Highway 2000.
Motorists travel towards the Portmore toll booths in St Catherine.
A pedal cyclist making his way along the Portmore Toll road on Saturday July 4, 2015, where the then recent increased toll fees are posted.
Kent LaCroix, chairman of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA).
A toll operator issuing a motorist a ticket with the increased prices posted on the work station.
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It should be business as usual for the sales of large vehicles, such as some SUVs and pickup trucks, which were recently bumped up from class two to class three on TransJamaica Highway's vehicle classification scale. According to president of new car dealers' organisation the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA), Kent LaCroix, car dealerships should see no decrease in sales of the recently reclassified vehicles.

However, while LaCroix does not see sales being affected by the increased fees, Norman Grindley, a driver affected by the reclassification, has decided to boycott the Portmore leg of the toll road. He drives a Toyota Tundra.

"I am not going to pay $550! I used to pay $270. In September, it raised to $290. With this reclassification, it has gone to $550. I cannot afford to have a pickup and paying the price of a huge truck! I don't have a green plate and I don't carry weight. I just drive my vehicle to and from work. I will no longer travel on that route," Grindley told Automotives.

Grindley is also upset about the distance that he will travel for the high fee, saying that he has timed the journey from the toll booth to Marcus Garvey Drive several times and it is three minutes.

He is among several other toll road users, who are now required to pay the same toll fee as trucks and Toyota Coaster buses. Although there is a focus on Portmore, because of the number of motorists and it is dormitory community for Kingston, the reclassification also affects motorists who use the Portmore, Spanish Town, Vineyards, and May Pen legs of the highway.

 

THOUSANDS MONTHLY

 

Drivers of the newly reclassified class-three vehicles, who routinely use Highway 2000 East-West, like Grindley, can now expect to pay $5,500 weekly if they traverse the roadway twice daily for a five days. At this rate, these newly-classified, class-three vehicle owners would therefore pay $22,000 monthly.

In recent media reports, managing director of TransJamaica Highway, Guillaume Allain said the category of vehicles affected was not being changed. He claimed the affected vehicles were moved to the category they should have originally been assigned to. Under the toll regulations, vehicles with a height of less than 1.7 metres are ranked as class one. Vehicles higher than 1.7 metres, but have a length less than 5.5 metres are in class two. Other vehicles higher than 1.7 metres but longer than 5.5 metres are placed in class three.

When Automotives contacted Minister of Transport and Works Dr Omar Davies, he said "I cannot intervene. The Ministry makes decisions on policy."

The toll highway network has been heavily touted as cutting the travel time across the country, facilitating commerce and living further from urban centres, but still being able to access the facilities concentrated there.