Letter of the day: Make toll rates more affordable
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I think the proposed toll rates are exorbitant and, if implemented, will see limited motorists taking the new North-South Highway, especially because inequity would exist should they be implemented.
I'm, therefore, recommending a standardised rate per major toll road/highway.
Currently, when Class One motorists take the toll from Kingston to May Pen, they pay $450 ($360, Vineyards; May Pen, $90).
This Highway 2000 East to West toll is 43.5km. This translates to $10.34/km. I conclude, based on perceived heavy usage daily, that most motorists find this affordable.
The proposed toll rates from Ocho Rios to Caymanas is $1,220 for Class One vehicles. If implemented, this would represent a 79 per cent increase in current toll rate per km of Highway 2000 (From Kingston to May Pen). This, if implemented, would be too high.
A motorist who drives a 1300cc vehicle may pay approximately $3,000 in gas to fill her tank. Can you imagine this motorist leaving Kingston to travel to Ochi and return and having to pay $2,440 (81 per cent of gas bill) for toll to save 45 minutes in travel time? Please consider, too, that a 1300cc vehicle may use less than or just about quarter tank (approximately $750 worth of gas) to drive to Ocho Rios and back.
A motorist who drives a 2,500cc vehicle may pay approximately $6,000 gas to fill her tank. Can you imagine this motorist leaving Kingston to travel to Ochi and return and having to pay $2,440 (41 per cent of gas bill) for toll to save 45 minutes in travel time?
Please consider, too, that a 2500cc vehicle burns more gas than a 1300cc vehicle and may use between a quarter to half tank (approximately $1,500-$3,000 worth of gas) depending on fuel efficiency, motor vehicle, etc., to drive to Ocho Rios and back.
While highway travel cuts travel time considerably, for the motoring public, they must ALSO appreciate savings in gas which can then be translated to pay the toll fare.
I'm, therefore, recommending that the authorities implement a $10.34/km to the North-South Highway, even as an introductory rate. Rates could then be subject to across-the-board increases, as now seems to be the case. If this is done for the new 66km highway, Ocho Rios to Caymanas for Class One vehicles would be $682.44. The return trip would cost motorists $1,364.88.
I think this would be affordable and also perceived as equitable. Tremendous resources and funds have been invested to build the highway. Many Jamaicans are proud of this most recent highway development, and can't wait to drive on it. The law of economics is simple: Keep the toll rates affordable, so more Jamaicans will take this route; returns on investment will be realised in no time.