Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
In an interesting compromise, several route taxi operators in Montego Bay have decided to pay a fee of $100 per day to the St James Parish Council to compensate for the revenue the council lost from its metered parking system when taxi operators got the green light to use major thoroughfares as taxi stands.
During a press briefing following the recent monthly meeting of the St James Parish Council, Montego Bay's mayor, Glendon Harris, announced the compromise, which, he said, would keep taxi operators in check while allowing the municipality to recoup its loss of earnings.
"We recognised the number of taxi operators who are operating in the city and the problem it was causing in terms of congestion," Harris explained. "This new initiative minimises the congestion while at the same time, it is generating funds for the parish council."
The parish council, after consultation with the St James Taxi Association, recently gave the go-ahead to have taxi stands sited on Market Street, King Street, Union Street, William Street, North Lane, St James Street, and Embassy Place. However, under the new arrangement, the taxi operators were asked to pay a fee of $700 per week to enjoy the privilege. Taxi operators have long been complaining that the assigned car parks cannot accommodate the growing numbers of taxis plying the various routes in Montego Bay.
SEEKING TO RECOUP
"We have given up revenue to allow these taxi operators to operate in these new areas," said Harris. "As such, what we have decided to do is collect $100 daily from each taxi operator for parking on these streets during the days.
"We have discussed it with them and they have expressed a willingness to pay because it is basically the same amount they would have paid if they had to use the car park," added Harris.
Dion Chance, the president of the St James Taxi Association, said he welcomed the initiative and was hopeful that it would benefit both his group and the parish council.
"We welcome the move, and we sincerely hope they (the parish council) will work out some arrangement for the other operators who may not have a permanent hub of operation at this time," said Chance. "Also, we hope they will inform the police from the traffic department of these changes so that our members don't come under any inconvenience during this period of transition."
New taxi stands
King Street - now services Cornwall Courts and Farm Heights taxi operators
Upper Market Street - accommodates Rosemount taxis
Section of Union Street - now services Salt Spring taxis
North Street and Upper St James Street - accommodates the Paradise-Norwood operators
William Street - now services the Glendevon and Sun Valley taxi operators