Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Public buses barred from Highway 2000

Published:Saturday | August 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM

An open letter to the joint select committee of Parliament considering the Road Traffic Act 2014.

Under Section 14 (5) of the Road Traffic Act 2014, driving contrary to the terms of a motor vehicle licence attracts six demerit points and a $30,000 fine.

Under Section 14 (7) , the same offence attracts a $15,000 fine.

Notwithstanding that inconsistency, it is the offence with which I, as a commuter, have a problem.

In 1938 when the Road Traffic Act came into force, legislators apparently did not contemplate the existence of toll roads and highways.

I find it ludicrous that in 2014, public passenger vehicles, obviously the target of this section of the proposed legislation, are being barred from driving on Highway 2000.

Minister of Transport Dr Omar Davies and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller oftentimes laud the development, suggesting that using the toll roads will save motorists time, money and petrol, and lead to increased productivity.

Dr Davies has used that to justify the latest hike in toll fees.

Moreover, as I understand it, the housing developments along Highway 2000 were sited in those locations because of the ease of access to the toll road.

Bear in mind that only a handful of those commuters own their own vehicles and that many who work in Kingston depend on public transport.

Yet the police continue to prosecute public transport operators for using the Highway.

Two weeks ago, I was among passengers on a Coaster bus the police stopped as it approached Ferry, having just exited Highway 2000 near the Caymanas crossing. That driver was among at least two who were stopped by the police and prosecuted, having told the operators they are not supposed to drive on the highway.

I believe that Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses that use the highway are not similarly targeted for prosecution.

Just in case Dr Davies and others are tempted to say that commuters should use the JUTC buses to avoid the inconvenience of being delayed by the action of the police, by any stretch of the imagination, one or two JUTC buses, which pick up about 6 a.m. from various locations in the Old Harbour area, are far from adequate for commuters who work or do business flexibly.

If the intent is to encourage use of Highway 2000 and hence the toll roads, and increase productivity by easier and quicker movement to and from one's destination, I appeal to Dr Davies and others on the joint select committee of Parliament considering the Road Traffic Act 2014 to re-examine this piece of oppressive legislation.