Rural maxis and inner-city fare-free maxis

Technological advancement is driving nation governments to use cleaner alternative fuels (such as CNG) as the fuel of choice for public transport.

AMTTT is fully supportive of CNG as an alternative fuel for the public transport industry. Consequently, AMTTT’s representatives have already visited Detroit, USA (2014) and Beijing, China (2015), regarding CNG vehicles. To this effect, AMTTT will adopt a transnational strategy, instead of a global perspective, recommending to the selected manufacturer technical improvements and smart components.

This will benefit the industry with improved quality to meet the needs of its operators.

Another major facet is the MOU signed by AMTTT and NGC CNG on May 13, 2015. Under this strategic partnership, a grant of TT$45,000 for a 15-seater diesel powered maxitaxis or TT$75,000 for a 25-seater diesel powered maxis will be given to successful owners. Also, the government will remove the Motor Vehicle Tax and VAT on purchase on an original equipment manufacturer CNG maxi taxi.

Rural Transport: AMTTT proposes a rural transport service comprising of maxi taxis, this essential service will be incorporated as part of the Integrated Rapid Bus Transit System (IRBTS) and operating from within the transport hubs, where possible. The rural maxi taxis will work in the respective rural areas but, instead their regular colour coding, will be checker-coloured.

Inner city transport: This service should be provided in the main cities [towns and boroughs] – Arima, Chaguanas, Port-of- Spain (PoS) and San Fernando.

Already, PTSC has Inner City Buses strategically throughout PoS.

However, we also propose that maxi taxis be contracted to assist with fulfilling the public transportation needs within these areas at the various cities. Another aspect of this service which can be explored is a ‘Fare-Free’ structure of the inner city shuttle. Consistent with Bayer et al, (2000, p.10), “The main benefit of a fare-free system is maximum system efficiency. The cost per rider, or ‘Subsidy per Rider’ is defined as an indicator of the effectiveness with which public monies are used in achieving the system’s ridership. This figure is computed by subtracting the operating revenue from the system operating cost, then dividing by the total boarding. Under a farefreesstem, the cost per rider will be reduced to an all-ti me low and possibly a future national standard, (cited in A Proposal for Free Public Transit and Improved System Efficiency in Austin, Texas).

The concept is based on the premise that by offering fare-free Inner City trips will ensure high ridership on the main routes and decrease the use of private vehicles.

Critically in keeping with our objectives, the Inner City service must be provided by only CNGpowered vehicles operating from within the designated transport facilities. Consideration can also be extended to the concept of the Park and Ride where it is not located within close vicinity of the designated transport faciliti es.

Partnerships with employers: An emerging philosophy among several large companies is employees’ shutt le services. This service is provided during the peak period and is mostly contracted out to maxi taxis. This phenomenon should be promoted and maybe some incentives be given by the government to encourage more parti cipati on.

Following the departure of the last passenger train from Port-of- Spain to San Fernando at 5.12 pm on August 30 1965, the burden of the public transport was transferred to the PTSC buses and privatelyowned taxis. In December 1979, maxi taxis were then introduced as a complementary public transport service to help with the public transport woes which existed at the ti me. In 2007, international consultants, Cansult, conducted an updated study which revealed that the number of people travelling along the East-West Corridor alone had increased from 21,000 (1996) to 30,000 people per hour. Still, the privately-owned transport providers, who are yet to operate under full capacity, accounted for 90 percent of the travelling public. Conversely, the PTSC bus service underperformed.

Hence, more demand for public transport service was placed on the private sector modes that responded to the best of its capabilities.

Regrett ably, the current system is yet to achieve maximum effiiency.

In conclusion, our research has not been able to identify any country with a populatin size similar to ours that has successfully adopted a Rapid Rail Transit Model. Factually, AMTTT favours the IRBTS which can benefi t all stakeholders, once controlled and managed properly.

But, which is far less-costly to design and implement than a Rapid Rail system especially in such a turbulent economic environment.



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