Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Letter of the Day | Urgent action needed to fix public transportation system

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:19 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

As a poor, ordinary man who considers public transportation as the cheapest option, I need to bring to the public’s attention and seek its support in condemnation of bus operators who ply the Mandeville to Kingston and the Mandeville to Spanish Town routes.

A few years ago when the Mandela Highway was being upgraded, the operators on the former route increased the fare set by the Transport Authority and Ministry of Transport from $450 to $500, using the excuse that they were rerouted to the toll road and so, faced with the increased toll cost, the commuter had to pay more. This increase, though illegal, was allowed.

Alas, the highway upgrade is completed and said roadway is now being used by the operators, yet there has not been a removal of this illegally imposed fare increase. In fact, they sometimes issue tickets with $450 written on them, yet they collect $500. Recently, last week, I got no ticket.

The situation is even worse on the Mandeville to Spanish Town route, because the extortionary and exploitative rent is even greater – $500 instead of the $350 set by the Transport Authority.

Against the background of the demonstrably above unequal distribution of power, I hereby pose the following questions:

1. What is the role and function of the Ministry of Transport in monitoring and setting fare rates?

2. What is the role and function of the Transport Authority in a matter such as this, for example, do they ensure that tickets are issued to commuters?

3. What recourse does a commuter have, having been so abused?

LITTLE INTEREST IN PROTECTING COMMUTERS

I have come to the considered conclusion that the minister of transport; the statutory body, in this case, the Transport Authority; and the bodies that represent bus operators have little interest in protecting commuters.

While ordinary commuters are under constant pressure, these officials cruise around – sometimes chauffeur-driven and mostly at the taxpayers’ expense – in their air-conditioned conveyances while we fight to be ‘placed’ into one of these ‘slave ships’ called public passenger vehicles, which then take us ‘literally on the edge of our seats’ to our respective destinations.

I am almost sure the Opposition spokesperson on transport is going to claim ignorance regarding this, but if he does, it is probably another indication of his party’s lack of appreciation of the important things that affect the day-to-day lives of the ordinary citizen, many of whom they failed to motivate in going out to vote in the last election.

E. BROWN