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UDC wants to keep Downtown Transport Centre open, but...

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, February 22, 2014    

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BETWEEN April 2013 and January 31 this year the Downtown Kingston Transport Centre lost just over $2 million, a cost that the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) says it cannot continue to absorb, even as the agency expressed a desire not to close the facility.

"We don't want to close it, but we cannot continue to bear the cost," UDC General Manager Desmond Malcolm told Wednesday's meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).

"The UDC has tried very hard to ensure that this centre operates efficiently, and in keeping with the purpose for which it was built. The UDC believes that it is a very important part of not only transportation, but also the revitalsation of downtown," he said.

"It also impacts on commerce in the area. It is very close to our market district, which we know that more than 30 per cent of all the money spent downtown, happens in that area," he added.

The transport centre was built under the supervision of the UDC, and with some UDC funds. It was opened in January 2011 with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) as the original manager. However, the KSAC gave up the centre, because it was unable to continue maintaining it without the co-operation of some stakeholders.

On Wednesday, Malcolm blamed the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) and the Transport Authority (TA) for the failure to get the Transport Centre back on track.

He said that a number of stakeholders meeting between the UDC, the JUTC and involving the TA have failed to resolve

the issue.

Malcolm explained that following a meeting last October with the JUTC and the TA to discuss the feasibility of handing the centre over to the State-run JUTC, the bus company shared its plans for the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), and the likely impact on its sub-franchise operators. JUTC agreed to look at the possibility of taking over the centre, but insisted that special arrangements would be needed to facilitate the market district.

A feedback from the JUTC on February 14 has indicated that it was still looking at the proposal, he said.

"The UDC is awaiting details on the interim arrangements and further feedback on the proposal to take over the centre," Malcolm told the PAAC.

He said that without the co-operation of the JUTC and the TA, the situation will continue as it is.

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