Archive for September, 2009

How to beat the traffic in Jamaica…

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

If last week’s Monday morning traffic was bad, this week’s Monday morning traffic was worse.  It now appears that school is back out in full and the busy roads are showing it.

What was clear was how impatient the motorists were.  The horns were blaring and people were sharp to remind others that the  red stoplight was about to turn green.  It is amazing how sharp Jamaican Motorists can be when they are ready.

Much of the traffic buildup occurs around schools. It would be interesting if National Works Agency could look into this and see how this could be addressed.  Many schools simply do not have adequate entrances or exits and the ripple effect is telling in on the traffic in city Kingston.

Garbage Collection at Peak Hour

What I can’t understand is why would the Jamaican Government have garbage trucks collecting garbage at peak hour. I saw this on Oxford Road in Kingston one day and was surprised. Maybe the garbage truck was running late. I was puzzled as it obviously made a bad situation worse.

Remember to give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of extra time do deal with potential mini-accidents, broken down vehicles and other little incidents that will most certainly cause the traffic to move a little slower

Save Gas

Now how is the motorist suppose to deal with this slow to stand-still traffic and is impact on the gas bill? To avoid burning a bigger hole in pocket, here are some simple options. Does anyone have some more?

  • Leave earlier: 30 minutes to 1hour can make a world of a difference.
  • Leave later, if you can: If the boss will allow
  • Take the bus: Premium fares are down but regular fares are do to go up.
  • Get a Motor Cycle: When it rains you get wet.
  • Arrange to work at home : Telecommuting welcome to the 21st Century
  • Car Pool: Old idea has issues
  • Do I hear Flexi-time again?

Jamaica’s Public Bus company wants 40% increase

Monday, September 14th, 2009

“Everywhere you tun macka juk u”.  That is a popular Jamaican proverb but it you are a Jamaican Motorist and consumer, battling general , toll, gas prices increases and their effects, that is how it sounds. If you harbour any thoughts of parking the vehicle and opting for public transport take note of the pending increases of 40% if the the Jamaica Urban Transportation Company(JUTC) request is granted

well overdue

The problem is the government while it must subsidise the transport service can not do so at the current levels. The JUTC has been losing significant money. This year they are projected to lose J$ 1.5 billion dollars.

A 40% increase means that the basic fare of $50 moves to $70.  For one week to journey to work and back expenditure on fares would move from $500 dollars to $700 dollars.  If you are unfortunate to have to take two buses that means $1000 to $1400.

In these times that is a serious dent in the pocket. The problem is even worse when you realise that there are some places that public transport does not server and commuters must often take “robot” or route taxis to a point before opting to use the public transport.

Despite the proposed fare increases,  public transportation is option that many will have to look to with the continuing recession in Jamaica.

n.b. Later this week we will take a second look at that stimulus package for Jamaican auto dealers.

Help for traffic in Montego Bay Jamaica

Friday, September 11th, 2009

So often when we talk about Jamaica we tend to focus on the major cities and towns e.g. Kingston and just maybe Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Today we shift a little to focus on Montego Bay.

Motorists in Montego Bay and most parish capitals and major towns e.g. Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, St. Ann’s Bay, Brown’s Town and Ocho Rios, St. Ann among others,  have had to endure horrendous traffic conditions.  Some of the problem can be blamed on the behaviour of the motorists while most of it really has to do it inadequate infrastructure, the result of poor planning.

Traffic is enemy of the motorist as it results in greater gas consumption, that is reduce mileage, general wear and tear on the vehicles engine.  It is in this vein that I am happy to see that something is being done again to try and fix the traffic situation in Montego Bay.  The opening of the Howard Cooke Highway went a long way many years back ( I can remember) to solving  the problem by allowing traffic to bypass the city center. Now the city center for years has continued to suffer.

Recently Radio Jamaica carried report about help for Montego Bay’s Traffic Problem. The plan, a traffic management system, calls for new traffic lights and surveillance systems.  It is interesting that the article made note of the consultations held among the motoring public, pedestrians and the authorities. It is hoped that the team work will make a difference.

No ‘organised’ Public Transport.

On the other hand St. James does not have an ‘organised’ public transport system. Transportation is basically limited to route taxis and the competing illegal taxis referred to as ‘robots’.  I was surprised that there was no mention of this in the plan.  As long as there is no proper public transport system the demand for vehicles will grow and problem will not go away. Some plan to stamp out the indiscipline needs to be in place.

Personally, the city and parish needs an overall as some of the streets are just too small and there is revisit the traffic flow. There is also a need for improved road signs such as one-way signs, street names and the vandalism of these signs needs to stop.  Finally there needs to proper planning for development of the city and proper transport centers will be critical.

Half-way-tree transport center example

The order that the Half-way-tree transport center has brought to Half-way-tree is amazing and projects of this kind relevant to  needs of other town centers need to be explored. It is interesting that it is the “robot” taxis that threaten to disturb the order of Half-way-tree.

The reality though is nothing burns gasoline like sitting idle or in being slow moving traffic and any solution will be of benefit to struggling motorist. What do you think is solution to Montego Bay’s traffic problem?


Stimulus package for Jamaican auto dealers

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

This has been an interesting week for motorists in Jamaica, but then again being a motorist in Jamaica is always interested.  On September 9, 2009, the Government of Jamaica announced a  6 month stimulus package for the auto industries in Jamaica. 

On the back on a 60% fall in sales, new and used car dealers apparently lobbied the government for some relief and alas got it. The government is strapped for cash so anything is better than zero and with fall-off in sales it meant less revenue for the government pockets.

The details 

For motor vehicles 1000-1600 cc, the SCT of 10% becomes 0%. The results it that the overall markup do to SCT and GCT will decline about 25% from 82% to 63%. 

Vehicles under 1000 cc already of 0% SCT while high-end vehicles will see SCT reduced from 70% to 35%. In between SCT for 1600 to 2000 cc moves from 20% to 5%, and for 2000cc to 3000cc vehicles the change is from 35% to 15% resulting in aggregate reduction in taxes from 110%  to 77% and 128% to 96%

As usual there are some interesting footnotes.  Those eligible for the 20% duty concession  can now import vehicles with any allowed cc rating as the previous restriction to this category has been removed. However the ceiling on the value of the vehicle of US$25,000 remains.

My thoughts are,  this should not be bad move but there are concerns. Will person exploit this to bring more gas guzzlers into the island? What about our Oil bill and our foreign exchange problem or do we have one?  

The Portmore and other Toll users are looking for a Stimulus Plan.

n.b. Gas Prices from the refinery went down this week.


Kingston based worker and the Portmore Toll

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

We have looked at the increases and we recognise that the Portmore leg had the highest average increase of  20.75%. Before we look at the actual cost and the impact on budgets let us make some assumptions. We will first assume that the Portmore driver goes to work and back home each day for 5 days a week. We will do our calculation using  4 weeks in a month and we are not removing the holidays.

Class One Vehicle

For a Class One driver the toll moves from $100 to $120.  For an average month the cost moves from somewhere over $4,000 ($100×5x2×4) to over $4,800 ($120×5x2×4).

For a year, 52 weeks, this figure moves from $52,000 (100×5x2×52) to $62,400 (120×5x2×52)

Class Two Vehicle

For a Class Two driver, Larger SUVs the toll moves from $140 to $170. For an average month the cost moves from somewhere over $5,600 ($140×5x2×4) to over $6,800 ($170×5x2×4).

For a year, 52 weeks, this figure moves from $72,800 ($140140×5x2×52) to $88,400 ($170×5x2×52)


The question now is what will the Kingston based worker that drives and uses the toll road alter their budget? Do doubt this increase will have an impact on workers subject to wage freeze and increase prices all around. Ensuring that the best petrol(gas) is being purchased for the lowest price and keeping the vehicle tuned will be critical in maximising savings.

One is way is opting to car-pool, take the bus or look at the tele-commuting option given our increasing Internet and computer penetration. Somewhere in the mix we possible might here the phrase flexi-week.

Do you have any ideas?