Pickersgill goes after reckless taxi, bus operators
Pickersgill tells new JUTC bus drivers to be careful
Monday, March 04, 2002
PICKERSGILL... I will not resile from taking the necessary measures to deal with the situation
TRANSPORT minister, Robert Pickersgill, says that the government will amend the law to apply stiffer penalties against buses and taxis which operate recklessly on the roads, as part of the efforts to bring order to the public transport system.
"Significant amendments to the laws governing public passenger transportation on our roads will go before Cabinet shortly (and will) introduce meaningful penalties for operators contravening the laws," Pickersgill said in a speech to mark the graduation of 56 drivers of the government owned bus company from and advanced driving course.
Although he did not give specifics of the amendments to the legislation or when they would be taken to Parliament, Pickersgill said the changes would remove grey areas regarding the impounding and treatment of motor vehicles being used as public passenger transportation which flouted the law.
The government substantially reorganised the capital's shambolic bus system three years ago when it created the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), and bought back the route franchises from the companies that had operated in a virtual free-for-all for years.
Although the service has vastly improved under the JUTC, minor private buses have, in recent months, been creeping back on trunk routes from which they were banished and often racing with each other and generally disregarding traffic rules, as in the past.
The JUTC has complained that these illegitimate operators as well as illegal route taxes siphon as much as $1 million from its coffers, causing its operation to run at a loss.
Pickersgill warned that these operators present a danger to the public and stressed that people who used them may find that they were not entitled to compensation in the event of accidents.
Even legally-registered taxis and buses working outside the terms of their licences posed a threat, the minister noted, and he advised commuters to avoid them.
"Let me assert that government, and I as minister, will not resile from taking the necessary measures to deal with the situation," he said. "There are those who are bent on proceeding on a lawless path, regardless of the consequences to others and the wider society."
Pickersgill also told the new JUTC drivers to regard their engagement as more than just a job.
"Always bear in mind, too, that at any given time you are not just the operator of the bus assigned to you but that you will have in your hands the lives of many of your fellow citizens," he said.