THE Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing is consulting with public transportation umbrella group, the Public Passenger Vehicle Modernisation Council (PPVMC), on the applicability of their Public Transport Management System (PTMS) in regulating the sector.
Speaking in the sectoral debate in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Dr Morais Guy, said the ministry recognises the disorder and mayhem in the public transportation system, and the government, through the Transport Authority, will be embarking on programmes to improve the sector.
However, he explained that, in a series of meetings with taxi associations and the Transport Authority regarding the way forward, he recognised that the government alone cannot satisfy the demands of the sector.
"There is definitely a need for partnerships to be established to effectively serve the various stakeholders," he said, to address issues like: the training and certification of public passenger vehicle operators; integrated monitoring mechanisms; strengthening the licensing and legislative framework and regulatory and monitoring ability of the authority; and rationalisation of route taxi associations.
He said that the ministry has started discussions with one of the public passenger transport umbrella groups, the Public Passenger Vehicle Moderinisation Counci (PPVMC), which is far advanced in introducing a self-regulatory software system, the Public Transport Management System (PTMS).
Dr Guy said that the ministry has looked at the system and believes it may deliver the missing link to significantly improve regulation, based on PPVMC's recognition that the industry is not delivering the standard of service required by the public.
"It has piqued our interest and, to this end, we are pursuing further consultations to determine its applicability," he told the House of Representatives.
"What is even more interesting is that these proposals, in the main, are on the same page as the proposal emanating from the Transport Authority. What this suggests, is that both sides recognise the importance of the industry and the need to work to ensure its sustained viability," he added.
"The ministry therefore welcomes such a move; in fact encourages such a move. As an administration, we believe that this move will redound to the benefit of the travelling public, as well as the operators. We are continuing the dialogue and we encourage all other groups which have not yet come on board to do so and, we stand and remain ready to initiate dialogue," the minister stated.
A brief made available by the PPVMC to the Sunday Finance explained that the organisation, is comprised of the leadership of the three main public sector transport bodies representing private sector investments - the Route Taxi Association of Jamaica (RTAJ); the National Council of Taxi Associations (NCOTA); and, the Jamaica Association of Hackney Carriages (JAHC). The Council, which represents more than 90 per cent of the operators, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently, commiting the council as the designated entity to spearhead the modernisation of the sector on their behalf.
The PPVMC brief noted that the problems in the sector (driver-related and most others) can only be solved with the participation of the primary stakeholders and through the use of modern computerised technology. The primary stakeholders would include the owners'/drivers' associations, the regulator (Transport Authority), the insurance industry, the Police Traffic Department and the Island Traffic Authority.
The brief says the Council will dedicate itself to effecting "meaningful and wide ranging changes to the public transportation sector, utilising research, public education, advocacy, capacity building, networking, development of operational standards based on best practices and most important, the training and certification of the workers in the sector".
The brief explained that the PTMS is a fully integrated, searchable computerised database, which will capture data on all operators in the Public Transportation System resulting in the computerisation of the sector. The system is accessible via the Internet and is capable of being used simultaneously by hundreds of users. The software was developed using a modular approach, with each stakeholder having absolute privacy, while permitting the sharing of crucial data with other stakeholders in the sector.
The Council has entered into an agreement with AlyJaz Business Solutions Limited to partner with it in funding the PTMS project. A commitment has been made by AlyJaz Business Solutions Limited to provide some 35 taxis and bus parish associations islandwide with computer equipment to become a part of the PTMS network.
The project is expected to commence this year, with the signing of MOUs between the parish associations and AlyJaz Business Solutions Limited. The computers will be presented to the various associations. A monitoring and evaluation committee is being established to ensure that the project is well executed and follows the agreed guidelines.