Montague touts school rail service among transport options

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 20, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Transport and Mining Minister Robert Montague has revealed that the Government is exploring a raft of transportation options, among them, domestic flights, which he noted should start in time for Reggae Sumfest, scheduled for Montego Bay between July 14 and 20.

He also spent time looking at railway transport for school children.

Montague revealed that discussions were “far advanced” with two companies “to reintroduce scheduled domestic flights across Jamaica.

“One will start before Sumfest. We want to fit it within the product so that we need to give our people options,” Montague said.

“I've been given the responsibility to ensure that when you trying to get to the prosperity, you should have the options of walking, driving or flying — and that is my job.”

He was speaking at the official opening of the newly renovated ticketing hall at the departure terminal of the Sangster International Airport and forum staged by MBJ Airports Limited on Friday.

The transport minister also indicated that plans are afoot to introduce a school train service, earmarked to start in St Catherine.

He noted that students from Linstead, Old Harbour and Spanish Town are reaching home late because “the public passenger vehicles hardly want to carry them until about 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm when they have carried all the adults already.

“I say to them let us start a school train service to pull the children out of Spanish Town on a phased basis and to tie that in with the JUTC. So once the train gets into Spanish Town our children gets on the bus and we take them to school and in the evening you do the reverse,” Montague suggested.

He pointed out that critics may say that it will not be a profitable venture but “the public passenger transport, operated by Government was not designed to make a profit.

“It will make a profit when one less child dies as a result of the gun; when one less child dies by the result of an accident; when one more child pass more exams because they are now less stressed in travelling. Those are the profit that we will make. Profit is not always how much money — profit is an improvement from where you start,” the transport minister said.

He also announced that the Government was examining two applications for ferry services, one of which proposes to operate between Ocho Rios and Cuba.

“One person has on their medium-term Ocho Rios to Santiago de Cuba. So we are actively examining that because if you integrate these services you find that somebody might fly into Jamaica, utilise MoBay airport, jump on the ferry to Ocho Rios, and then ferry to Cuba,” Montague stated.

“So it is not a matter of competition, it is a matter of complrmenting. And we are moving with the integrated view in mind to make sure that our people have choices when they want to move to look for their friends, for family or to do business,” Montague stated.


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