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'It's not our fault'

TA says increase in route taxis not reason for recklessness

By Balford Henry
Observer senior reporter

Friday, November 29, 2019

CECIL Morgan, Transport Authority's (TA) managing director, says expanding the number of route taxis in the Corporate Area is not the reason for rampant recklessness among cab drivers.

“Whether we increased the number of licences issued annually by 100, 500, or a 1,000, that is not a justification for breaking the law,” Morgan told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

“The increased number of licences don't give people the right to break the road traffic laws. The problem is the lack of discipline and lack of enforcement, and the primary issue is the lack of enforcement.”

The TA approved 22,274 new and renewed licences (2018/2109), compared to 10,076 for the similar period 2017/18.

The managing director said “the big mistake” made by the TA's critics is that they fail to recognise that most of the licences issued in Kingston and St Andrew are not Route Taxis, but for Hackney Carriage (or Charters).

“The licences are mostly given to Hackney (Chartered) operators,” he said, noting that most are issued for inner-city communities like Jones Town and Maxfield Avenue.
 He said the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) also franchises Routes Taxis on routes, including 6, 31, 35, 81 and 82.

“These are JUTC franchises and we have seen the kind of indiscipline that they (cab drivers) display on these roads,” he said.

He dismissed the notion that the licences granted are a means to increase revenue and pointed to the fact that the TA has not increased the cost of licences since 2010.

“If you look at the earlier Auditor General's Reports, you will see that even the Auditor General recommended expanding the number of licences we grant, in order to reduce the number of illegal operators. By bringing them into the system, it is much easier to monitor them,” he said.

Morgan recently announced that the TA will be pushing for a study on the public transportation sector. He said there will be consultations. This comes amid efforts by taxi operators to get a fare increase.

 However, Morgan said data from the study, which will be conducted by The University of the West Indies (UWI), will not be available until later this year. The findings of that study will inform whatever adjustments will be made in the sector, he said.