Jitney rides are set for an upgrade of sorts in the coming months, according to Minister of Transport and Local Government Frankie Campbell, who said his ministry is set to bring online a pilot programme that will have all bus services on a single revised route.
The project, which will last for six months, is being funded by a half-a-million dollar grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is part of an agreement between the ministry and the Public Transport Representatives.
According to Campbell, the project is also aimed at solving the “vexing” problem of reckless jitney drivers.
“Many persons have expressed concerns about the reckless behavior exhibited by some Omni or jitney operators in this regard,” said Campbell during his mid-year budget contribution.
“There have been any number of accidents and improper activities involving jitney operators and both the Road Traffic Department and the police are challenged in their capacity to regulate the driving habits of many of these drivers.”
Campbell said that the behaviors of jitney drivers are often dangerous and diminish the quality of the experience of those who choose to or have to take public transportation.
Another area of concern plaguing the country’s transport sector according to Campbell, is the “leasing of government licenses and franchises for taxis, tour busses, limousines and omnibuses by persons not engaged in the public transport sector.”
He lamented that some license owners lease to third parties who require them to operate.
“This is a vexing problem, which has resulted in often astronomical fees being paid by persons who are leasing from franchises and license holder, and who often find themselves caught in a vicious cycle and at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals who often have no compunction about charging exorbitant fees for the continued use of the license or franchises,” he said.
Campbell said the government will address this issue in a “comprehensive fashion” and that his ministry will seek Cabinet’s advice with respect to “right sizing” the public transport sector shortly.
“These efforts are designed to establish an equitable, fair system for all Bahamians, who have demonstrated a commitment to participate properly in the sector,” he said.