The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT), is finalizing a Comprehensive Plan of Action for taxi and bus service on St. Maarten. The goal is “to foster job creation and income generation by empowering and professionalizing the Public Transportation sector and increase their performance and contribution to the socio-economic development of St. Maarten.
As part of the plan of approach the Ministry of TEATT will amend or draft supporting legislation where necessary. This process has taken into account the concerns of the Taxi and Bus as well as other public transport operators on Dutch St. Maarten.
Minister of TEATT the honorable Stuart Johnson said he was very pleased at the turnout and participation of Taxi Drivers and Bus Drivers at a recently held meeting to discuss the Ministry’s plan for the island's transportation services improvement. During the meetings they discussed improvements of physical infrastructure, bus stops, bus depots and routing for buses. He said consultations have also been held with the Ministry of VROMI and the police.
Amongst the things the Ministry has executed is an extended assessment of the Public Bus System, to determine acceptable service levels, assess present and future routing, scheduling and infrastructural needs and determining what policies should be prepared to address these needs.
Johnson said it is also important to assess the public’s perception of the public transportation system according to Johnson. “If we are providing the service to the community, they should have an input into things such as the routing and what type of public transportation service they believe will best suit their needs in the not too distant future,” said Johnson. He said the public transportation service must be service oriented and take into account the fact that visitors and residents use these services and the quality of service they receive is a direct reflection on our island.
Johnson said some improvements to what exists now such as revamping the Public Transportation Committee and identifying their objectives and responsibilities are critical steps that must be taken. Johnson said, "It is important that the public transportation service providers can get access to social services such as Healthcare and Pension as they are contributing to society and earning an income."
While there are several in-depth discussions still to be held and many issues to consider, ultimately these discussions should lead to separating the regulation of licensing of permit holders from regulation of motor vehicles providing public transportation services and the implementation of the concept of PCD (Professional Commercial Driver) certification.
The Ministry of TEATT will be disseminating information regularly to continue engaging the public as it moves closer to improving the public transportation service.