Planned toll increases worrying for public transport operators
President of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Egeton Newman

Minister of Transport and Mining, Audley Shaw, will have to face frustrated public transport operators who plan to line up at his door with complaints and suggestions on how the new toll increases could be adjusted to loosen a tight grip on the already burdened sector.

According to Egeton Newman, president of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), the new Highway 2000 toll rates, which will take effect on Saturday, July 9, threaten to run taxi and other public transport operators out of business.

“TODSS and our partners want the government to understand what we are facing at this time with an increase in tolls, added to many other increases in our business as transport operators. When other people can transfer the increase of toll fees to their clients, we can’t. That is a major problem.”

“Others, like the truckers, can pass it on to their clients or add it to their contracts with companies, but we can’t do it. What we are saying to the government is that we need to talk. There must be a way to address the toll situation so we can stop suffering. The plan is to continue to agitate with [the] government until some changes or a review of the toll charges is done,” Newman said.

Newman said that they are fearful that if there is an increase this year, there may also be another increase next year.

“Every year it goes up nine and 25 per cent and within the next five years, we won’t be able to operate at all. After eight years, we got a fare increase of 15 per cent and we may not get another increase for now. The toll is one instrument that is going to tear us to pieces. As an organisation, we are asking the government to do something about it,” Newman continued.

Class 1 motorists who use the Portmore toll plaza in St Catherine will have to pay $340, up from $290, while the T-tag discounted rate will be $320. The class 2 rate will be $550, up from $470, while the T-tag discounted rate will be set at $520. For class 3 motorists, who currently pay $870, will have to start paying $1020 as of Saturday.

Those who use the Spanish Town toll plaza in the class 1 category will be subjected to pay $240, up from $210. In the class 2 category, motorists will have to pay $370, up from $320 while the new class 3 rate will be $680, up from $590.

At the Vineyards toll plaza, the new class 1 rate will be $600, an increase of $50. The new Vineyards class 2 rate will be $900 up from $810. Class 3 will jump from $1,510 to $1,800.

The May Pen toll plaza will attract a new fee of $190 for class 1 motorists, up from $150. Class 2 motorists will pay $300, reflecting an increase of $50. The class 3 rate will skip from $500 to $570.

JASON CROSS , Observer staff reporter, crossj@jamaicaobserver.com

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