Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
FORMER TRANSPORT and Works Minister Mike Henry has warned the governing People's National Party not to scrap the seven-year 'multi-modal' urban/rural transport system, which he had planned to implement under the previous administration.
Henry, who is the Central Clarendon member of parliament (MP), said the rural aspect of the transportation plans would have first rolled out in Clarendon before expanding to Manchester and then on to St Elizabeth, beginning this September.
He said some 40 buses were to be placed on the road in the first phase of the programme. Some 260 buses were to eventually be on the road in the three parishes.
Davies told The Gleaner earlier this year that the cost of financing a rural bus system may not be something the country could afford at this time.
"I see the Government giving away the buses to the police ... but I am warning the prime minister not to scrap the rural/urban transportation plans that I had put in place at the ministry," said Henry, during an address at the James and Friends Education Programme function in May Pen, Clarendon on Wednesday.
He added: "We cannot continue to subsidise a transportation system that only benefits the urban areas. We all pay taxes in this country, so why should kids in Kingston and St Andrew be asked to pay $80 for fare to go school, while their rural counterparts are asked to pay up to $700 per day for the same service," Henry asked rhetorically.
He insisted that the plans for the rural/urban transportation system would save taxpayers millions of dollars in subsidies, by levying a higher fare structure on commuters in accordance with the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) recommendations.
He also said while there is a national transportation system in Kingston and St Andrew and part of St Catherine and also in the western ends of the island, there is none for the central region.
"The plans I have was to put a system in place in the central region of Jamaica, with 260 buses that was financed and ordered for this purpose," he declared.
"We had also planned to standardise the fare structure right across the board in accordance with the OUR recommendations, that recommends that fares should be around $140, instead of the current $80 now been charged. Therefore, the new transportation system would have saved taxpayers millions in subsidies," added Henry.