Motorists pay more on toll roads

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Motorists pay more on toll roads

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 02, 2020

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MOTORISTS are now paying more to use Jamaica's Highway 2000. The hike — which was delayed in June due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — came into effect Sunday, September 20.

Lerone Laing, acting CEO of the Toll Authority, told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine that the new rates are the first to be introduced since 2017. He said the rates — approved by the Toll Authority — are the maximum the highway operators can charge motorists, and not necessarily what they should be charged.

He noted that the operators of the north- south leg of the highway, Jamaica North South Highway Limited, had sought an increase from January but, eventually, agreed with TransJamaican Highway (TJH) Limited, which operates the east-west leg, to keep the increases on hold in light of the pandemic.

“We do not review the rates annually, but from time to time we review the rates and set the maximum limit within which they can increase their rates,” Laing told Auto.

The rates on the east-west leg is seeing a increase between $10 and $30.

For the average Class 1 vehicle, the cost of travelling the May Pen leg was increased from $120 to $130; Spanish Town, from $170 to $190; Portmore, from $240 to $260; and, the Vineyards rate increasing from$480 to $510.

Class 2 vehicles travelling the same routes will pay $220 (May Pen); Spanish Town, $290; Portmore, $420; and Vineyards, $750.

Class 3 vehicles (buses and trucks) will pay $440 on the May Pen leg; $790 on the Portmore leg; $530 to Spanish Town; and $1,400 through the Vineyards.

North-south toll rates from Caymanas to Ocho Rios varies from $200 to $1,400 for Class 1 vehicles; $350 to $2,600 for Class 2 vehicles; and from $600 to $4,200 for Class 3 vehicles. Motorcycles pay $100 to $700 per stop on the same route.

The Tolling Policy Agreement, as outlined in the Concession Agreements, provides that the concessionaires may apply for an annual increase in toll tariffs. It should be noted that the publication of the notices of intention to amend the Highway 2000 (North-South Link) Toll Order, 2014 and the Highway 2000 (Part of Phase 1) Toll Order, 2006 to provide for a variation in the toll rates was in keeping with the Government's obligation under the Concession Agreements.

The operators of both legs of the toll roads submitted their applications to vary the toll, as stipulated under the agreements. However, they both indicated that the new rates, which ordinarily would have taken effect in July, would not be implemented at that time due to the pandemic.

The ministry say that, in the meantime, it continued to receive feedback, as it invited in the notice, and also pointed out that many of the comments received were focused on the timing of the increase, which highlighted the need for further clarification to be provided to the public, who may not have read the notices in their entirety.

The ministry said it was committed, as stated in the notices, to notify the public through the toll operators, before the new rates were implemented.

“The published rates represent the maximum that may be charged, but it is at the discretion of the operator to apply discounts as they have customarily done,” it noted.

The ministry said it collected all further input and feedbacks, which are normally reviewed and considered in the final decisions regarding applications of new rates.


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