Montague working to transform transport sector

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Transport Minister Robert Montague's drive to transform the transportation sector is commendable and his efforts have been noted by many in the transport sector. Still, we admit there is a far way to go, but substantial progress is being made in the right direction.

I read and make reference to both the release carried in the letters section of the Jamaica Observer on July 22, written by Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) President Edgeton Newman, and the editorial of the Observer published on July 23. The blatant misgivings in both articles cannot be ignored.

Both articles referred to a proposal to subject drivers to customer training and having a pool of drivers certified by the Transport Authority that owners of vehicles can select/hire, but neither the Observer nor Newman acknowledged or gave due credit to Minister Montague, who initially proposed this concept and has been working hard to make it a reality by April 2020.

A quick scan of the minister's 16-point reform proposal aimed at transforming the public transport sector specifically refers to, among other things, the specific proposal mentioned by Newman. In fact, the minister's sectoral presentation made on June 3, 2018 reads: “All drivers must submit to an annual customer service driver education training. These will be administered in partnerships with HEART and taxi associations.” Therefore it is disingenuous of Newman to take full credit, if any credit at all, for the proposal in question.

The minister's vision for the sector outlined through his proposal also included equipping vehicles with tracking devices for safety and security reasons, in addition to having renewals done on birthdays, instead of at the end of the financial year, which creates a glut and an unpleasant customer experience when thousands of public passenger vehicle (PPV) operators flock the Transport Authority to have their licences renewed in April each year.

Minister Montague goes further in his drive to transform the sector by stipulating that PPV operators wear uniforms which contribute to the professional look of the sector. He also remains the only minister of transport who has appointed not one, but two members of the public passenger industry to boards in the sector — the Transport Authority and Island Traffic Authority. This was a blockbuster move that sent shock waves through the industry, as prior to now it was frowned upon to have regular taxi operators on government boards. The minister's analysis, however, is spot on, as in order to properly govern, the input from all key stakeholders must be taken into consideration in the decision-making process.

It is, however, encouraging, the minister's vision in getting valid and material support from the TODSS, which remains a voice for many PPV operators. This kind of cooperation is critical to the reformed transport sector we all wish to see.

Sandra Whyte

sandrawhyte84@gmail.com


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