Bus park howler
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
Close to $100,000 being spent each month to keep the lights burning in underutilised facility
The largely idle $400 million bus park and taxi stand in downtown Kingston is costing Jamaican taxpayers close to $100,000 per month for electricity alone.
The bus park opened its gates some 18 months ago which means taxpayers have already paid close to $2 million dollars for electricity bills.
To compound the problem, the taxi stand, which is largely ignored, has its light burning all through the night every night without even one vehicle or a single commuter present.
The transportation centre, which was designed to restore order to the public transportation system in downtown Kingston has failed miserably as most commuters, bus and taxi operators have ignored the facility which detractors say was built in the middle of nowhere.
The centre is not earning enough revenue to offset the monthly maintenance costs so the state-owned Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has to pay its bills.
"In response to your query, kindly note that a review of our records indicate that on average, the Urban Development Corporation pays electricity bills of $95,000 for the Transport Centre in downtown Kingston," said Lorna Clarke, corporate relations manager at the UDC, in response to The Sunday Gleaner queries.
She also told our news team that energy-saving bulbs are being used at the multimillion dollar transportation centre in a bid to keep costs down.
"To the best of my knowledge that was a part of what was implemented," she said.
The Kingston and St Andrew Corporation was once responsible for the day-to-day management of the facility but the municipal authority called it quits while saying it could not continue to carry the millions of dollars in losses.
The centre, built by the UDC, was initially slated to cost $160 million, but the cost quickly climbed to $400 million because of design errors and other issues.
When it formally opened, dozens of public passenger vehicle operators were shifted to the now-idle transport centre, which is located between Port Royal Street and Water Lane.
But neither operators nor their passengers seemed particularly thrilled, and the few who used the centre would do so only because they were forced by the police and officials of the Transport Authority.
But that aggressive drive to get the operators into the centre has now fizzled, creating way for a free-for-all on the streets of downtown Kingston.
Chairman of the UDC, KD Knight, has said that there is private-sector interest in the facility but there is no indication that those plans have moved out of 'park'.