CABBIES TO COME?

CABBIES TO COME?

Proposal for taxis to use H-W-T Transport Centre

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 19, 2021

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IN an effort to rid Half-Way-Tree and its environs of vehicular congestion, new acting managing director of the Transport Authority (TA), Willard Hylton, is proposing that all public-passenger vehicles (PPV) be routed throu gh the transport centre.

“Everybody complains about the congestion, so we have been discussing the idea of routing all of the PPVs through the transport centre,” said Hylton, while suggesting that the centre is currently underutilised.

He said that the move would lead to the relocation of taxis and mini-buses from major roadways in Half-Way-Tree and re-routed through the centre, exiting on to Eastwood Park Road.

He also noted that the idea is not for the taxis to park in the centre but to drop off, so that the people can board the buses inside the building and continue their journey.

“So that is the thinking: Free Half-Way-Tree by getting them into the centre,” said Hylton.

TA Communications Manager Petra-Keane Williams, also supported the move, suggesting that it would be “a win-win situation” for all persons using the corridor.

However, several commuters are of the view that the 'loader men' would migrate into the centre.

“I'm not looking forward to that. When the taxis start coming into the transport centre, so will the 'back-up men'. I don't want to have to deal with that inside here,” said Marlene Jones, who said she has been using the transport centre since its opening in 2008.

Dionne Williams shared similar sentiments.

“No sah. Me nuh waan dat. I really can't deal with the 'loader man' dem,” she said. “Security would also be an issue.”

The phenomenon of 'loader men' sprung up around major transport centres in the 1980s. They usher passengers into their respective vehicles for a fee which the driver pays. Some people see them as thugs and extortionists, while others see them as hustlers.

Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine spoke with Cecil Thoms, communications manager at Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), to find out his thoughts about sharing the centre with taxis.

“I can't say anything at this time until there is a meeting between our managing director and the Transport Authority, but it is an issue which has been around for several years now without being resolved because of some of the fears that arise,” Thoms told Auto.

Built on loan and grant funding from the Belgian Government, the Half-Way-Tree Transportation Centre opened its doors in 2008. It's trafficked by more than 100,000 people daily, according to Transport Authority officials.


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