The Transport Authority has vowed that its plans to have route taxis and minibuses complement the Government transport system on underserved routes is nothing like a similar programme introduced by the then Democratic Labour Party Government in 2015.
In fact, Director Alex Linton told reporters during a tour of the new Constitution River Terminal today, the Transport Authority Service Integration (TASI) project, which was first introduced as a six-month pilot, was dead.
“No, this is not the TASI, definitely not. The TASI has run its course and . . . that is the end of the TASI at this point in time,” Linton said.
During a meeting with PSV owners at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Sunday night, Chairman of the Transport Authority Ian Estwick announced that Government was pressing ahead with its plan to have privately-owned PSVs fill the breach resulting from a shortage of state-run Transport Board buses.
Estwick acknowledged that many commuters were facing hardships in going about their business due to the shortage of Government buses on certain routes, and promised that Government would therefore work to alleviate this situation by relocating PSVs to the affected routes, particularly in the inadequately served north of the island.
The new programme appeared to mimic TASI, which combined the services of Transport Board and private PSVs on some routes, in seeking to address issues of public transport reliability.
However, Linton today pointed to differences between the two programmes, stating that what was now being proposed was “the reallocation and the partnership of the private and public operators”.
“That is the Transport Board, minibus and route taxis so as to provide services on those which are lacking due to bus unavailability by the Transport Board. In essence, helping the travelling public because at the end of the day we have to serve the travelling public and we have to make it work,” the transport executive stressed.
Linton also addressed the long vexing issue of vendors operating at the entrance to the new terminal, which is due to become operational from Saturday.
He said discussions were being held with the vendors, and while a master plan was being devised, some would have to move.
“We have to relocate or ask some who already have stalls elsewhere to please return to those stalls because they will be impeding on what we are trying to do to improve the area,” Linton said.
“In this regard a master plan for vendors is being deliberated at higher levels and once that plan has been hashed out it then be delivered to the public. But obviously, deliberate consultations are needed with the vendors. We will not do anything to obstruct their daily living, but of course we need to improve the safety on the ground for both vendors as well as the PSV operators and the public who will be using this terminal facility,” he stressed.
Linton became embroiled in a controversy in 2016 over planned relocation of the vendors to make way for the construction of the new bus terminal.
The vendors had first been given a ten-day notice by the Ministry of Transport & Works to move their businesses by November 6, but after much protest were given an extension until January 3, 2017. Linton later said they would not be asked to leave the terminal.
At the height of the row, then Opposition Leader Mia Mottley had suggested that Government should be made to foot the entire relocation bill for the vendors.