Commuters travelling to and from Edey Village, Christ Church and Sturges, St Thomas can now access scheduled services on ZRs or minibuses from the Transport Board’s Fairchild Street and Princess Alice Bus Terminals.
The Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) pilot project was officially launched this morning on the two routes by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley.
Under TASI, the private transport operators are allowed to pick up passengers on a scheduled basis from the state-owned Transport Board stands, have access to all the facilities and benefit from a subsidy, where pensioners and school children are not charged.
The ZR and minibus operators will also issue the same Transport Board tickets in exchange for their fare.
Lashley said upwards of ten PSVs are involved in this first phase and assured the public that all the private operators participating were specially selected to ensure the maintenance of law and order and discipline.
“I think that the passengers need not fear because we have actually done a careful job in terms of selecting through a tender process and selecting those persons we believe, we know, would uphold the standards; uphold, of course, what is there within the law to ensure that there is safety on the road,” Lashley said.
The minister said that today’s launch was the fulfillment of a promise made “only a couple months ago” to alleviate the transportation problem on some routes, particularly the
Edey Village route.
At the Fairchild Street bus terminal, the minister and his team of officials, along with reporters, witnessed an Edey Village ZR driven by James Munroe leaving with a full load, a development Lashley described as historic.
“And as you have seen this morning, the first PSV vehicle that came in, it actually carried a full load of passengers and I think that is a manifestation that we have really touched the problem and of course the passengers were satisfied and I think this is history in the making.”
Lashley emphasized that the pilot project would be reviewed from time to time, providing flexibility so the ZRs and minibuses can service other routes with the permission of the Transport Authority.
Passengers and the driver of the Edey Village ZR James Munroe welcomed the new service.
“It is okay once you get people entering it [the vehicle] . . . I would like to see it go on, not only wid me but the whole PSV people . . . everyone just combine and do what it suppose to do. I would like them [colleagues] to come and join in cause it is less stressful and more organized; so it is better that way,” said Munroe.
“I now start working up there [Edey Village] and the bus route was hard. You couldn’t get nuh bus, yuh had to sit down like a hour and two hours and thing, so I glad [for the service],” declared Cherrie, a passenger who declined to give her last name.
“All the challenge would [be] alleviated cause yuh don’t get Edey Village buses as regular as some of the others; this change is welcomed,” commuter Judy Lokey told reporters.
The second route launched this morning, Sturges, St Thomas, involved the use of a minibus. Director of Transport Alex Linton told reporters that the minibuses not taking part in TASI and are currently plying that route would be re-routed to allow the pilot project to work properly.
A third route, Martins Bay, was put on hold pending repairs to some of the rural roads leading to the area.