Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Bad blow to transport centre

Published:Tuesday | October 21, 2014 | 10:00 AM
The almost-empty downtown Kingston transport centre. - File
JUTC buses using the refurbished bus park at North Parade in downtown Kingston, instead of the transport centre. - File
Norman Grindley - Chief Photographer
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Downtown Kingston residents worried over possible closure

Residents of communities near the transport centre in downtown Kingston are urging the authorities to come up with a plan to increase usage of the facility rather than closing it down.

The residents were responding to reports last week that the closure of the facility has not been ruled out by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which is reportedly losing $2 million per year to operate the centre.

Desmond Malcolm, the general manager of the UDC, last week, told a parliamentary committee that it has two choices: "Become either more efficient in operations or we close it down".

"It would be a shame if it was closed down," declared Maureen, a resident of the nearby West Street.

"We believed that this would have pulled people to the area and I had set up a little shop but the centre has failed," she added.

Other residents echoed this concern as they argued that if properly operated, the transport centre could give a boost to commerce in the area.

But it appears that the initial plan to use the facility as one of the drivers of the redevelopment of the area is now on its death bed.

The plan was dealt a near fatal blow last week when news emerged that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has ruled out operating its buses from the facility.

Built at a cost of $400 million and opened in 2011, the centre was designed as part of plans to revise downtown Kingston while reducing traffic congestion in the city.

At the opening, then Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who was also the member of parliament for the area, argued that it would help to revive downtown Kingston, and would go a far way in lessening vehicular congestion in the area.

Under-utilised transport centre

But since then, the centre has remained under-utilised with more youngsters playing ball there on weekends than buses and taxis which use the facilities.

The UDC has argued that it can make a profit from the facility if the JUTC and the Transport Authority of Jamaica work alongside it to provide support.

But Colin Campbell, the managing director of the JUTC, told the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament that the bus company has no intention of using the centre.

According to Campbell, the JUTC decided not use the facility on the basis that it would further compound its financial woes.

This has left the most likely scenario facing the UDC being the closure of the facility.