Transport In Jamaica
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Transport In Jamaica
by C. Holness

It can be somewhat overwhelming figuring out how to get around in an unfamiliar place. Visitors to Jamaica should not let this prevent them from exploring all of the many wonders which lie in store for them throughout the island's unique towns and picturesque countryside.

Wherever you want to go, there should be several options that will take you there; it all depends how much comfort, time, and saving money matters to you.

Doing some research ahead of time when you are planning your itinerary, can be very useful when it comes to deciding which form of transport you are interested in using to get around during your stay.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular offerings in terms of transit that are available in Jamaica. 

Which Types Of Public Transportation Are Available?

Locals who do not own their own vehicles depend heavily on the island's various forms of public transportation to get them to work, school, and anywhere else they need to go, and as a result, it is fairly affordable.

Visitors who wish to see more of Jamaica than the inside of a resort property, especially those on a budget may find this to be an ideal way for them to move about.

It's possible to travel pretty much anywhere on the island relying solely on the public transit network which includes public buses, minibuses, route taxis, and private taxis.

As one would expect, the further you wish to travel, the greater the cost, but these fares are still quite low with many local trips being in the range of 1 to 2 US dollars, and further journeys to neighboring towns being costing about 5 US dollars which is really easy on the pocketbook for most people.

Where To Go

Each town has its own centrally located transportation station, or “bus park” where it is possible to catch a route taxi, bus, or minibus.

Destinations are clearly marked on the vehicles. If you are confused as to where to go, most locals will be happy to assist in pointing you in the right direction.

Mornings before 8am and evenings around 5pm tend to be the busiest times when transportation will fill up the fastest due to a higher volume of passengers.

Service is usually reduced somewhat on Sundays as many businesses are closed, and it can take longer to get a ride.

Buses

A bus can take passengers from one parish to another, with service being offered between most towns.

These buses do not follow a pre-determined schedule but rather leave when the driver has filled all seats, which usually means people are somewhat uncomfortably crammed in, but for shorter distances, this doesn't bother most travellers too much.

People can get off or on at any point along the way provided there is space, and merely need to flag the bus down if they wish to board it.

Those who visit the Kingston Metropolitan area, which encompasses Kingston itself as well as the neighbouring parishes of St. Andrew and St. Catherine will find several scheduled bus routes, serviced JUTC-Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses, which are designed to seat 60 passengers each.

Although more organized, travel can be time-consuming on these vehicles, so patience is necessary.

Those wishing to travel between most major cities on the island such as Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril to name just a few, can choose to travel on the comfortable, air-conditioned buses of the Knutsford Express

Minibuses

Commonly referred to as “coasters”,  minibuses serve a vast number of passengers travelling between the island's villages and towns each and every day.

A private, licensed minibus will bear red license plates with the letters PPV on it, which designates it as a “public passenger vehicle”.  

While those operated by JUTA-Jamaica Union of Travellers Association, will be marked with this company's insignia, these vehicles provide transport services exclusively to tourists.

The public minibuses used by locals are, much like the larger buses, often crowded and do not have set schedules, but leave at the discretion of the driver. 

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Route Taxis 

Route taxis, also known as “dollar cabs” play an integral role in tranport in Jamaica

Inexpensive and readily available, they are one of the most convenient means of getting around. As with other forms of public transit, they are generally packed with as many passengers as they can possibly hold, and sometimes more!

Most of them are Toyota Corolla station wagons, although other vehicles are also used as route taxis. They have red PPV license plates and are marked with the name of the route they serve on their front doors.

Some drivers offer passengers the option of chartering the taxi for their own use, which means it would be theirs alone without other riders, but the rate for this service is higher as you may expect.

Passengers can get on or off anywhere they wish along the route.

Cars with white plates should be avoided as they are unlicensed vehicles which are not registered for the purpose of transporting passengers. 

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Taxis

Although more costly, some travelers may prefer to hire a chartered taxi, most of which are operated by JUTA, island-wide.

These licensed taxis are referred to as “contract carriages” and cater primarily to tourists.

Some people opt to split the cost with others to make it more affordable. Rates are established by the Transport Authority and are to be displayed inside each car.

It's a good idea to always inquire about and agree on rates first before entering the vehicle. 

Private Transportation

Some of the more adventurous visitors to the island may prefer to rent a vehicle and do their own driving.

Roads in Jamaica are known for their abundant potholes, lack of sufficient signage, and bold drivers who may make some unpredictable moves from time to time, so this needs to be taken into consideration before opting to be your own chauffeur.

Those who are up to the challenge however, should find it to be an interesting, if not exhilarating, experience and can enjoy the freedom of moving about when and where they please.

If renting a car is your preferred mode of transport in Jamaica, the best place to do this is at the airport, which boasts a selection of reputable rental agencies, or as an alternative, you may wish to rent a scooter or motorcycle, which can be found in most popular resort areas.

See Also: Rocky's Taxi & Tours

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