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A Year On And Government Still In Talks On Jitney Reform

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Glenys Hanna Martin

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

ONE year on since the renewed promise to reform public transportation, the government is still in talks with jitney owners over the impending unified bus system.

The issue of how to address the current system of “leasing” is still a major concern, according to Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin, who expressed confidence that discussions were moving forward in good faith.

“You have the franchise holder with one interest, and the leaser with another interest, how that person will be dealt with in the unified bus system is a major concern,” said Mrs Hanna-Martin.

“From our point of view it’s part of the analysis, how will someone that fits that description, how will they fit in that new paradigm.  A lot of persons have been leasing for decades, we have to make determinations on all these matters.”

And she added: “We are committed to a transportation system that makes sense in this country, one that is reputable and one that people feel comfortable with.”

Plans for a unified bus system have moved at a snail’s pace under successive PLP and FNM administrations.

As far back as 2006, jitney drivers, franchise owners, and the public have called on the government to implement a unified system that would bring all operators under one entity. At that time, then Governor General Arthur Hanna vowed that the PLP government would bring legislation to enact the plan. In September 2009, then Minister of Works and Transport Neko Grant said the proposed initiative was still in the preliminary stages, and a final draft had not yet been presented to Cabinet. 

In 2010, a College of the Bahamas study estimated that a strengthened jitney system could save a Bahamian family more than $30,000 over 10 years. The COB faculty group, the 1962 Foundation, warned that the current inadequate infrastructure “deepens our growing trade imbalance and national debt”.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mrs Hanna-Martin explained that plans for the unified bus system was a part of the IDB road development project, and that the government was undergoing a formal process to update the business model. In the interim, she said the government is engaged in parallel talks with owners and officials in a bid to ensure a smooth transition.

Mrs Hanna-Martin said: “We hope to come to an agreement on protocols that would seek to enhance the pubic transportation system, things like routes, stops, safety and security, deportment, as well as music on the buses.

“We are having an excellent dialogue with the owners, who have as great an interest in the improved system as anyone else because they are stakeholders.”

Last year, Mrs Hanna-Martin said there were more than 500 individual owners operating within the public transportation system in New Providence. She explained the figure was irrational and ineffective, adding that it contributed to the reluctance of the public to use services.

In a Tribune poll last year, readers voted the training and certification of drivers as the most important change needed to improve public transportation. The regularization of bus drivers was backed by 220 voters, while 107 readers opted for passenger security, and 91 readers called for a review of the number of bus companies in operation. Record keeping on the number of buses in operation was also suggested.

Police officers also weighed in on the jitney debate last year, pointing out that passengers play a vital role in maintaining “tranquility and orderliness.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 6 years, 2 months ago

TALKS??? With those criminals. I think it safe to say Miss Hanna Martin that the people of the Bahamas are not interested in talks with these thugs. We want you to DICTATE to them and start locking them up and taking their licenses away when they decide that they own the road and will do what they want.

Put in place a point system. Get enough points and you lose your license forever. Every infraction gets points, the more severe the more points. With this system you should weed out the criminals in about a year.

But we are not interested in talking with those thugs. We want law enforcement immediately.

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Guy 6 years, 2 months ago

I couldn't agree with you more. I think the fact that many of these franchise holders are MPs and senior government officials is a big contributor to these delays. Surely it should not take years to craft and develop a new system that would work in the NATIONAL interest. Shouldn't the interests of bus owners and franchisers be secondary to that? If you can't get the job done Miss Martin, then say so. We want results. Enough excuses. We have had enough of the "falling down the stairs" bull that accompanies this lack of performance!

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B_I_D___ 6 years, 2 months ago

Shock and awe!! NOT...does no surprise me in the least with GHM on the case!!

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TalRussell 6 years, 2 months ago

Comrades of all political colors, can I at least have a Hail Mary for anyone having to ride our jitneys on a daily basis. About two years ago I boarded a Jitney to take what I had mistakenly thought would be a quick 10 minute ride as I headed downtown to collect my car. Within minutes I was TOLD by the driver, that he had to make a detour to drop-off some money to his girlfriend who worked for ZNS at the top of Collins Avenue. After some 35 minutes, I finally reached my destination.

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Guy 6 years, 2 months ago

Unacceptable. For God's sake we need to clean up the public transportation industry.

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ohdrap4 6 years, 2 months ago

Jitneys have a much more horse power than the surrey drivers. Instead of taking 43 years for the legislation should take only 20.

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banker 6 years, 2 months ago

With contacts in Perry Christie's office, UTC has effectively castrated PTAB and Reuben Rahming's efforts to organise the jitneys under one roof.

What most folks don't know is that the police own a lot of the licences. Why do you think that the jitney drivers never get tickets (unless a police rivalry happens, and one bunch of cops start ticketing the drivers of another).

I don't think that the government running the jitneys is a good idea. What they should do, is tender out the service to one company and one company only for a period of 5 years with the provisos that there are regular timetables, clean jitneys that do not belch black smoke and are in good mechanical repair, and the drivers are paid a fair wage. The drivers should also have clean police records and clean driving records.

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eyeswideopen 6 years, 2 months ago

Don't you'll know by now that that's all they are good for??? Verbal diarrhea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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positiveinput 6 years, 2 months ago

Its funny that the government wants to clean up the public transportation yet failed to erect as simple as proper bus stops. How do you expect to enforce rules/laws, yet leaving doors wide open for failure.

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TheObjectiveVoice 6 years, 2 months ago

Ummm.... I am sure that they have been trying to reform the jitney service for the past 15 years.... positive... so it's not one year later. Talk time. Never happened.

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