Route 2 maxi taxi operators confronting multiple issues

Maxi taxis at the City Gate hub in Port of Spain. - File photo by Roger Jacob
Maxi taxis at the City Gate hub in Port of Spain. - File photo by Roger Jacob

Route 2 Maxi Taxi Association PRO Jason McMillan said while many people have fixated on the operators’ call for their bus route passes, they are also asking for the Ministry to look at two other issues which are vexing the membership at this time.

McMillan said the call for maxi taxi operators to be able to pass their bus route passes to their next of kin stems from the need for financial viability for their families should they pass away or become incapacitated.

He said due to the cost of purchasing a maxi taxi, which he claimed could reach up to $1 million, the maxi owner's families also made the sacrifice to pay for the vehicle.

“If you have a plot of land and you die, you can pass it on to your spouse or children. If something should happen to you, and you become incapacitated, and you need the maxi taxi to work to help pay for your medical bills, the Ministry of Works and Transport does not have a specific policy in place, they don’t want to transfer the pass to your children or spouse.

“Another example is if you die and are still owing on the vehicle, most institutions do a business loan. That loan doesn’t die when you do and the burden remains on your family, and because they don’t have the use of the pass to hire a driver to work the bus to compensate the loan, they are at risk of losing their entire life savings.”

He said everyone would like to know they could pass on their business to their children and family.

McMillan also called on the Ministry to fulfil its promise regarding the management of City Gate.

“When the government in 2007/2008 asked us to buy the larger maxis to form a public-private partnership for transport, certain promises were made to us. One of them was that we would be given management of City Gate. If you have been to City Gate recently, it is a cesspool. We are drowning in cess.

“We are asking the Minister of Works if we can have some sort of rehabilitation of City Gate or pass it on to us and let us manage our own affairs. We are not asking for no money, we are not asking for no handout, we’re just asking for better conditions for us and the travelling public at hand.”

The third issue affecting maxi taxi drivers is the demerit point system. McMillan asked for a review of the current system, which he said is unfair to them.

“A pH driver who has no taxi badge or permission to work and pick up passengers, he will get stopped and get a ticket that has no demerit points. But maxi taxi drivers are being placed on the breadline for the simple charge of plying for hire, which carries three demerit points, where our trade is plying for hire. We are the only entity that has to get a legal taxi badge and insurance to carry passengers, and yet we are being penalised for working.”

The 2022 Demerit Point System issued by the Ministry of Works and Transport said any person standing for hire at a place not appointed for the purpose is subject to a fine of $750 and three demerit points applied against their licence.

McMillan said the offence of plying for hire could be applied at the discretion of the police officer.

“Even if you stop somewhere you’re allowed to stop, they could come and tell you move without any reason behind it and if you refuse or you ask why, you could get a plying for hire (ticket). So it’s not only to deal with the unauthorised stops, you can get a plying for hire on authorised stops. It only takes ten points for them to take away your license.

“Someone who drives to work and drives back home uses the nation’s roads for three to four hours a day, the threshold for them reaching ten points, and a maxi taxi driver, who drives 12-14 hours a day, is significantly greater for the maxi taxi driver. They drive to work, park up, drive back home, their chances of racking up points is extremely less than someone who drives for a living.”

In a release on Monday, the Ministry of Works and Transport said the issue of next of kin was engaging its attention. No response was received up to press time as to when a meeting would take place between the ministry and the maxi taxi operators.

McMillan's comments and the ministry's response come following a protest by the drivers in front of the ministry's office on Monday.


"Route 2 maxi taxi operators confronting multiple issues"

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