No ceiling on licences - Taxi routes to be open to competition
The Government has announced its intention to open all public transport routes in Jamaica to competition in a move to overhaul the current regulatory framework governing the licensing of public passenger vehicles.
Currently, a technocrat determines the number of taxis and buses that should operate on a route.
"We will allow all who wish to be licensed to be licensed," Minister of Transport and Works Robert Montague declared yesterday during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Gordon House. Montague told his colleague lawmakers that the Government would conduct a six-month period of consultation with stakeholders before making changes to the current system.
Under Montague's proposed plans, operators who are awarded a route must remain there for at least 30 days before an application can be made to change it. Another proposed change to the current status quo is that individuals would be able to design their own routes and apply for it to be registered.
With the Transport Authority currently issuing 44,000 public passenger and commercial licences annually in April, Montague said that the practice would be changed, and the renewal of licences would be done in the owner's birth month. He noted that the current licensing arrangement was onerous and placed a great deal of pressure on the workers and the system.
Talks are also being held between the transport ministry and the Island Traffic Authority to have a Transport Authority inspector seated at the depots to certify and issue commercial licences. Montague said that the current system to issue a commercial licence was cumbersome and time-consuming.
"Once the examiner certifies that your vehicle is commercial, you will get your licence right there and get your green commercial licence plate."
The transport minister insisted that changes would be made to the taxi industry, noting that stakeholders should see the sector as a business and not a 'hustle'.