19,000 PPV licences issued last year
APPROXIMATELY 19,000 vehicles were licensed last year to provide public transport services, according to the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) 2013 review.
The ESSJ said that these vehicles collectively provided 175,000 seats, of which route taxis, rural stage carriages and vehicles licensed to operate in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) accounted for 42.6 per cent, 38.3 per cent and 18.5 per cent, respectively, while the Montego Bay Metro bus service and Express Carriages accounted for the other 0.3 per cent.
However, despite the increased figure, a seating deficit of some 7,646 seats still remained across the island.
The Transport Authority said it received 24,000 applications for licences last year, compared to 21,726 during 2012, although this figure only referred to applications for route taxi, hackney carriage, contract carriage and rural stage carriage licences.
Route taxi licences rose from 16,635 in 2012 to 16,838 last year; hackney carriage licences from 789 in 2012 to 1,580 last year; contract carriage licences from 4,615 in 2012 to 4,471 last year; but rural stage carriage licences fell from 1,051 in 2012 to 990 last year.
The figures show a continued trend of increasing applications for licences, as well as the number of licences issued by the Authority which rose from 17,447 in 2012 to 19,023 last year. The TA explained, however, that the higher numbers stemmed from increases in licences issued to all categories and may be due, in some cases, to applicants unofficially switching from one category to another.
The Authority says it is continuing to effect improvements in the processing and delivery of licences to achieve an average turnaround time of two days in the off-peak period, and five days during the peak licensing period.
Changes to the procedure for renewing licences in February 2013 led to a significant reduction in the processing time for licences. The processing time, which used to take two weeks, has now been reduced to 36 hours.
— Balford Henry