Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer
New transportation arrangements for public-passenger vehicles operating in downtown Kingston are to take effect come mid-January, 2011.
The arrangements, which form part of the Government's redevelopment programme for downtown Kingston, are expected to significantly reduce traffic congestion in the capital, which is already overburdened by a severe shortage of parking spaces.
The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), which unveiled the plans Wednesday during a media briefing at the Jamaica Conference Centre, said the new arrangements were reached following recent meetings between major government stakeholders and transport-sector representatives.
Several transport operators currently operate or terminate in the Parade area, resulting in gridlocks in that area.
Under the new arrangements, buses operated by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) will now operate out of North and South Parade, while rural buses plying routes from St Mary, St Thomas and Portland will terminate at the new UDC bus park at Water Lane, scheduled to open January 15, 2011.
JUTC subfranchise operators will now use the existing Pechon Street bus hub, which is to be upgraded to facilitate the new arrangements, while route taxis will now terminate in what will be known as Taxi Park 1 on Water Lane.
No-cost shuttle system
Six locations have been earmarked for hackney-carriage operators who will use lay-bys at North and South Parade, lay-bys at the King and Barry Street intersections in the vicinity of the General Post Office, Darling, Ebenezer and Pechon streets.
Cecil Morgan, general manager in charge of operations at the Transport Authority, said a shuttle system using JUTC buses would operate between Parade and the UDC bus park at no extra cost to passengers.
The shuttle, which will operate 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, will utilise regular and articulated buses at a cost of $5 million monthly.
Assistant Police Commissioner Gervis Taylor said the police have already instituted increased security arrangements to ensure the safety of commuters in the downtown Kingston area.
"We're going to be having beat personnel along all the routes, not just to the new transportation centre, but also to the existing transport centres in the western part of Kingston, namely Darling Street and Pechon Street," said Taylor.
The assistant commissioner added that a new police post, similar to the one at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre, was being built at the UDC bus park, which would be manned by the Island Special Constabulary Force.
He said the Police Traffic Division would have responsibility for overseeing security, as well as enforcing traffic regulations along the route as part of the police's overall crime-management programme.